April 20, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Researchers of the Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland have discovered that brain volume is linked to mental decline in people with Alzheimer's.
This linkage was discovered while performing autopsies on deceased elderly patients. The entire brain was found to be larger in patients who had not experienced any cognitive impairment. In particular, the hippocampus, a part of the forebrain in the medial temporal lobe that plays a major role in long term memory, has been discovered to be larger in size for those patients with no cognitive impairments. Most surprising, those in both categories had plaques and tangles in the brain as found in typical Alzheimer patients.
The study consisted of 12 patients who did not have Alzheimer's symptoms before death and 24 who had experienced symptoms of the disease. As per Dr. Deniz Erten-Lyons, the brains of those without symptoms of Alzheimer’s were found to be on average 10% larger.
Dr Jeffrey Kaye, director of the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center and a professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine stated: "We are hopeful that this research will help us further understand the structural and genetic ties to Alzheimer's disease and perhaps offer clues that may help us develop new drugs or therapies."
This study could help lead the way to developing better tools for earlier detection rather than relying heavily on evaluations of thought process through mental tests. All studies seem completely worthwhile when up against a degenerative and terminal disease that has no cure and affects millions worldwide every year.
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