Researchers say MRIs can pick up loss of grey matter

Cognitive decline can be predicted a decade early, dementia researchers say.

Brain scans predict dementia

Melbourne University researchers have stumbled upon a diagnostic tool that can predict the onset of dementia 10 years before the first signs of cognitive decline are apparent.

In 2017, dementia was the second leading cause of death in Australia, with 13,730 lives claimed by the disease, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Twice as many women than men die from dementia-related causes.

The researchers found that early brain atrophy, where the grey matter shrinks and dies, can be picked up by MRI scans, and the information used to pinpoint which individuals were more likely to develop the fatal disease.

Reporting in the journal Brain Imaging and Behaviour, the team tested 60 women aged around 59 and measured “changes in verbal episodic memory and executive function over a 10-year period”.

Led by Cassandra Szoeke, of the Women’s Healthy Ageing Project, the team found: “Higher whole brain and hippocampal atrophy rates are correlated with a decline in verbal episodic memory.

“These findings indicate that in addition to atrophy rate, smaller regional grey matter volumes even 10 years prior is associated with increased rates of cognitive decline.

“This study suggests useful neuroimaging biomarkers for the prediction of cognitive decline in healthy elderly women.”

Of the original 60 women involved in the study, 40 underwent follow-up cognitive assessments and 23 had follow-up MRI scans.

It was discovered that brain atrophy can occur several decades before the first signs of cognitive impairment.

“This study suggests useful neuroimaging biomarkers for the prediction of cognitive decline in healthy elderly women,” the team concluded.

Up until this research was conducted, few studies had examined the relationship between changes in the amount of grey area and cognition over a long period in healthy elderly women.

“In the present study, we investigated the relationship between whole brain and hippocampal atrophy rates and longitudinal changes in cognition, including verbal episodic memory and executive function, in older women,” the team said.

Would you undergo an MRI to help predict if you are likely to develop dementia in future?

 

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    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    30th Oct 2018
    9:58am
    So now every aged man and his dog are going for an MRI? What a cost.
    KSS
    30th Oct 2018
    12:11pm
    That was my thought too.
    Jenny
    30th Oct 2018
    11:18am
    I don't see the point of an MRI. If dementia is coming there is little to be done about it as far as we know now.
    Charlie
    30th Oct 2018
    11:24am
    Its quite hard to get one on medicare. I had a brain MRI 10 years ago for small blood vessel disease and chronic pain. Mini stroke stuff. To get a comparison one without symptoms of falling over, is a struggle I am going thru at the moment.

    One of the things they don't consider about taking continuous pain medication, is the symptoms that it hides
    Jenny
    30th Oct 2018
    11:40am
    On the other hand I suppose that if you knew in advance then maybe you would not put off doing some of the things you want to do.
    Gypsy
    30th Oct 2018
    2:00pm
    I agree. And you can start making some decisions on your later life, whilst you can.
    Rosret
    30th Oct 2018
    12:51pm
    I would but then I will forget as soon as I sign out of this page . hehe
    I worked with both men and women during my life and honestly men are just as forgetful, don't listen etc etc. There is an expectation that all significant dates will be forgotten, the wife will find the keys, wallet and phone.
    I think we should forget the gender issue and just focus on delaying the onset of dementia.
    OnlyDaughter
    30th Oct 2018
    1:23pm
    I found this article interesting. However, the doctor examining the MRI and the doctor reading the results need to comprehend what they are looking at in order to make an appropriate diagnosis, otherwise it is a waste of time, effort and money. My 93-year old Mother had an MRI that showed up global brain shrinkage including the hippocampus, hypersensitivities, loss of grey matter and a lot of other things. The psychiatrist who was supposed to be treating her - and I say supposed because this silly woman needs to be struck off - looked at the MRI, read the report from QldXray and said there was nothing wrong with our old Mum - despite the fact that she has major behavioural issues, forgets everything, has time distortion, has reinvented significant parts of her life because she cannot remember and she has paranoia with delusions. So go figure.
    musicveg
    30th Oct 2018
    2:26pm
    Interesting the use of the wording " they stumbled upon a diagnostic tool" Only good thing knowing early is you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to slow down the progression of the disease, but as most research is funded by big pharma, their only interest is finding a drug to give to people 10 years earlier.
    pedro the swift
    30th Oct 2018
    2:53pm
    So, Mick, wouldn't you want to know if your best friend is suffering from dementia. How will he find his buried bones?
    Puglet
    30th Oct 2018
    3:12pm
    I don’t want know if I and my dog have/getting Alzheimer’s. I would prefer that the money saved by not having MRIs (billions) be spent on ensuring all Older Australians (and their pets) have enough to eat, warm beds and friends to talk to. Most people who reach 80 will have dementia and MRIs won’t stop this or help. The only advantage of an MRI is to help me arrange the time of my death and a home for the dog.