Scientists have been looking for years into methods that can distinguish a healthy brain from one that is in early stages of Alzheimer’s. Traditional MRI doesn’t reveal how water moves within the white matter, but diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a method where specific radio frequencies and magnetic field pulses are applied in a predefined manner, can reveal the direction of water diffusion to uncover some of the physical processes within the brain. Now researchers from Tor Vergata University and Santa Lucia Foundation, both in Rome, have shown that diffusion tensor imaging is a better predictor of oncoming memory loss when compared to traditional MRI measurement of hippocampus volume.
Basic methods used in the study from the published abstract:
In this cross-sectional study, 76 healthy individuals (44 male and 32 female), ranging in age from 20 to 80 years, were recruited from universities, community recreational centers, hospital personnel, and patients’ relatives from 2005 to 2008. These individuals were submitted to a 3-T MRI protocol with a whole-brain T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted scanning and a neuropsychological assessment. For each subject, we calculated the volumes of the total brain (gray + white matter) and hippocampi. The segmented hippocampi defined the binary masks where mean values of mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) were calculated. Neuropsychological evaluation included tests of verbal memory (15 minutes delayed recall of a 15-word list) and visuospatial memory (20 minutes delayed reproduction of Rey complex figure).
A short audio report on the findings from MedPage Today:
More details expounding on the findings atMedPage Today: New Scan May Distinguish Early Alzheimer’s from Normal Aging…
Abstract in Neurology: Hippocampal mean diffusivity and memory in healthy elderly individuals. A cross-sectional study
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