Peer Reviewed


Document Type


Publication Date



Dementia, Imaging, Intellectual disability


The original article is available at


BACKGROUND: Down's syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability. People with DS are at an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) compared to the general population. Neuroimaging studies of AD have focused on medial temporal structures; however, to our knowledge, no in vivo case--control study exists comparing the anatomy of dementia in DS to people with AD in the general population. We therefore compared the in vivo brain anatomy of people with DS and dementia (DS+) to those with AD in the general population.

METHOD: Using MRI in 192 adults, we compared the volume of whole brain matter, lateral ventricles, temporal lobes and hippocampus in DS subjects with and without dementia (DS+, DS-), to each other and to three non-DS groups. These included one group of individuals with AD and two groups of controls (each age-matched for their respective DS and general population AD cohorts).

RESULTS: AD and DS+ subjects showed significant reductions in the volume of the whole brain, hippocampus and temporal lobes and a significant elevation in the volume of the lateral ventricle, compared to their non-demented counterparts. People with DS+ had a smaller reduction in temporal lobe volume compared to individuals with AD.

CONCLUSIONS: DS+ and AD subjects have a significant reduction in volume of the same brain regions. We found preliminary evidence that DS individuals may be more sensitive to tissue loss than others and have less 'cognitive reserve'.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychiatry and Psychology


Mullins D, Daly E, Simmons A, Beacher F, Foy CM, Lovestone S, Hallahan B, Murphy KC, Murphy DG. Dementia in Down's syndrome: an MRI comparison with Alzheimer's disease in the general population. Journal of Neurodevelopment Disorders. 2013;5(1):19.

PubMed ID


DOI Link