Neuroimaging in dementias
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Purpose of reviewTo critically review data on the use of neuroimaging tools in the clinical diagnostic investigation of dementias.Recent findingsFor many years, the use of neuroimaging tools in the evaluation of dementias has been restricted to excluding neurosurgical lesions that may account for the cognitive decline. However, modern neuroimaging extends beyond this traditional role of excluding other conditions and has a key role in the clinical investigation of Alzheimer's disease and of other degenerative cortical dementias. MRI, PET with fluorodeoxyglucose, and single-photon emission computed tomography are topographic markers of neural damage and enable the identification of specific lesional patterns that characterize Alzheimer's disease and other cortical dementias. More recently, PET amyloid markers have enabled the in-vivo assessment of amyloid load, a key feature in the physiopathology of Alzheimer's disease.SummaryThe combined use of neuroimaging examinations with clinical, neuropsychological, and cerebrospinal fluid markers can improve the specificity of the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, even at early stages of the disease. In the following years, progress in research will provide standardized and validated imaging markers of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, which may increase their application in clinical settings.