Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • JoAnn TschanzEmail author
  • Stephanie Behrens
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_527


Degenerative; Wasting


Atrophy is a loss of cells of any tissue. In the brain, atrophy refers to a loss of neurons that may be generalized (e.g., diffuse atrophy) or focal, reflecting circumscribed regional loss. Focal atrophy may occur as a result of trauma or cerebrovascular lesions, for example. Generalized atrophy may occur with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. With atrophy, there is also corresponding loss of neural connections (synapses). Visual features of atrophy include sulcal widening, shrunken gyri, and enlarged ventricles. Atrophy may be viewed on gross inspection of the brain post-mortem or antemortem with structural imaging techniques such as MRI or CT scan. Figure 1 displays diffuse brain atrophy of the cerebral hemispheres viewed from the top.
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References and Readings

  1. Smits, L. L., Tijms, B. M., Benedictus, M. R., Koedam, E. L. G. E., Koene, T., Reuling, I. E. W., Barkhof, F., Scheltens, P., Pijnenburg, Y. A. L., Wattjes, M. P., & van der Flier, W. M. (2014). Regional atrophy is associated with impairment in distinct cognitive domains in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 10, S299–S305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Center for Epidemiologic StudiesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA