Controversy persists regarding whether Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a distinct entity or instead exists on a continuum with nondemented aging. To explore this issue, volumetric analyses of callosal and hippocampal regions were performed on 150 participants aged 18-93 years. Group-level analyses revealed that nondemented age-related differences were greater in anterior than posterior callosal regions and were not augmented by early-stage AD. In contrast, early-stage AD was associated with substantial reduction in hippocampal volume. Examination of the 100 older adults using regression analyses demonstrated age-associated differences in callosal volume that were similar in demented and nondemented individuals. Early-stage AD was again characterized by a marked reduction in hippocampal volume while age alone induced only mild differences in hippocampal volume. As a final analysis, the formal double dissociation was confirmed by comparing the effects of age directly against the effects of dementia. These results suggest a multiple-component model of aging. One process, associated with AD, manifests early and prominently in the medial temporal lode. A separate process, ubiquitous in aging, affects brain white matter with an anterior-to-posterior gradient and may underlie the executive difficulties common in aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-739
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Corpus callosum
  • Dementia
  • MCI
  • MRI
  • White matter


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