MRI technique detects cognitive decline before symptoms

7 October 2014

A new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique can spot signs of cognitive decline in the brain before the patient complains of any symptoms.

This is according to a new study published in the journal Radiology and could see the analysis serve as a biomarker for the very early stages of preclinical dementia. 

Early detection is critical for people suffering from cognitive decline, as treatments are most effective when delivered during the initial phases.

It is thought that problems in the brain, which eventually lead to dementia, could be present for years before a diagnosis but are not currently evident because of the brain's cognitive reserve - where the brain compensates for deficits in regions of the organ.

Researchers recently studied arterial spin labeling (ASL), a promising MRI technique that measures brain perfusion - where blood enters tissue.  The findings suggest that individuals with decreased perfusion, which can be picked up by ASL MRI, may temporarily maintain their cognitive status with their cognitive reserve, but will eventually develop subtle cognitive deficits.

Posted by Jeanette Royston​

 

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