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Science Daily (January 6, 2010): New Brain Scan Better Detects Earliest Signs of Alzheimer's Disease in Healthy People
A new type of brain scan, called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), appears to be better at detecting whether a person with memory loss might have brain changes of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the January 6, 2010, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"As better medicines for Alzheimer's disease become available, it will be important to identify people at high risk for the disease as early and as accurately as possible so treatment can be most effective," said Norbert Schuff, PhD, with the University of Californai and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, author of an editorial about the research.
For the study, 76 healthy people in Rome aged 20 to 80 underwent DTI-MRI brain scanning, which is more sensitive than traditional MRI for detecting changes in brain chemistry, thereby mapping fiber tracts that connect brain regions. The researchers examined DTI changes in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is critical to memory and one that is involved in Alzheimer's disease.
Participants were given verbal tests and tests that measured visual perception of space between objects. Scientists compared the brain scans and found that changes in DTI imaging better explained declines in memory than did measuring hippocampus volume throught a traditional MRI.