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Brain scan may spot Alzheimer's before symptoms

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) A new study has identified structural and metabolic brain changes that may predict dementia or cognitive decline in normal older adults.

Furthermore, the anatomical location of these changes suggests Alzheimer's disease pathology.

To determine if brain imaging could identify predictors of dementia in people with normal mental function at baseline, researchers followed 60 Latino individuals who were 60 to 100 years old for an average of 4 years. The subjects underwent examination with two imaging techniques -- positron emission tomography or PET imaging and magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.

At follow-up, six subjects developed cognitive impairment or dementia.

According to Dr. William Jagust of the University of California at Berkeley and colleagues, there was a ''high positive correlation'' between faster declines in cognitive function on a standard test and lower glucose metabolism in key areas of the brain.

The pattern of glucose metabolism, together with the location of brain regions that are predictive of Alzheimer's ''suggests that these findings are due to the detection of presymptomatic Alzheimer's disease,'' the researchers conclude.

Reuters OM DB0941

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