Early Alzheimer’s disease detection: New study
new peer reviewed study A report from Brain Connectivity at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has discovered personalized brain “fingerprints” that can help diagnose early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in asymptomatic patients.
Using revolutionary brain imaging technology, neuroscientists conducting research can visualize subtle brain changes in pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s patients to determine how the disease begins and progresses. It helps to
“No previous study has found a link between brain function and behavior in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Andreana Benitez. press release“Using these individualized maps of brain function, we have discovered potential brain-based reasons for highly subtle cognitive changes in the early stages of this disease.”
The team used a new technique called the ‘individual function connectome’ developed by collaborator Dr. Hesheng Liu to analyze brain images.
This highly sensitive technology can show individual brain patterns that are not possible with conventional methods.
“We all have the same functional parts of the brain, but they are like fingerprints, in slightly different locations,” another researcher, Dr. Stephanie Fountain Zaragoza, said in a press release. “This method creates an individualized brain fingerprint that more accurately reflects where different functional areas of an individual brain are located.”
A team of neuroscientists applied the method to a group of 149 study participants aged 45 to 85 who had no signs of cognitive decline.
Each participant’s brain was scanned by a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and divided into groups based on the results. The group that showed evidence of early amyloid-beta protein accumulation on PET scans and the group that did not.
MRI scans were also taken by the researchers to generate a “fingerprint” of the brain.
Using behavior-based tests, researchers assessed the cognitive abilities of study participants.
What they found was that certain changes in brain fingerprints were associated with accumulation of amyloid-beta, or reduced information processing capacity in participants who had preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.
Conversely, we found that people with more connectivity in their networks, or more brain activity within key regions of the brain, were better at processing information.
“A healthy brain typically balances connections within and across its networks,” said Fountain-Zaragoza. “We found that in preclinical AD, where there is amyloid accumulation in the brain, this balance may be disrupted and information may not be processed efficiently.”
This study suggests that the initial state of protein accumulation in the brain, before symptoms of cognitive decline become prominent, may affect cognitive performance. It suggests that changes in connectivity may indicate early problems in information processing capacity. According to the researchers, this could be an area where treatments might target to improve outcomes for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
This method may improve the way preclinical cases of Alzheimer’s disease are studied. In particular, because adults with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease do not show significant symptoms of cognitive decline. study.
In the future, the researchers plan to expand this study to explore how changes in the brain affect Alzheimer’s disease progression and potential treatments.
“There’s a lot of great research out there aimed at helping us understand the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Fountain-Zaragoza. “Research in this area is important in understanding the full spectrum of the disease and identifying who is at risk of developing it.”