What is Posterior Cortical Atrophy

What is Posterior Cortical Atrophy

Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) refers to the slow and progressive deterioration of the cortex—the outer layer of the brain in the back of the head (posterior). The same amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles present in people with Alzheimer’s disease also appear in the cortex for people with PCA. However, it remains unknown whether posterior cortical atrophy is just another form of Alzheimer’s disease.

This condition typically affects people between the age of 50 and 65. Other physicians may refer to it as Benson's syndrome.

What causes posterior cortical atrophy?

The changes in the brain mirror other types of dementia, such as Lewy body dementia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The cause of this condition is unknown, but it's often linked with Alzheimer's. Other than this, no genetic mutations have been proven that lead to this condition.


The posterior cortex of the brain is an area that processes visual information. In the early stage, memory isn't affected, but problems with vision are apparent.

Some common symptoms of PCA lead to visual problems, such as difficulty in reading a text, differentiating between stationary and moving objects, and disorientation. Other symptoms include:

  • Problems recognizing objects and faces
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty in doing math calculations or spelling
  • Anxiety


There's no treatment for posterior cortical atrophy or any known medications that can stop its progression. Due to its resemblance to Alzheimer's, some FDA-approved Alzheimer’s remedies may or may not temporarily work to relieve symptoms.

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