Brain activity in youth may presage Alzheimer’s pathology

Image courtesy of Benjamin Shannon, John Cirrito, and Robert Brendza Washington University in St. LouisBrain regions active during default mental tates in young adults reveal remarkable correlation with those regions showing Alzheimer’s disease pathology.Researchers who used five different medical imaging techniques to study the brain activity of 764 people, including those with Alzheimer’s disease, those on the brink of dementia, and healthy individuals, have found that the areas of the brain that young, healthy people use when daydreaming are the same areas that fail in people who have Alzheimer’s disease. Findings suggest Alzheimer’s may be due to abnormalities in regions of the brain that are active when people are musing, daydreaming, or thinking to themselves.

Brain’s ‘resting’ network offers powerful new method for early Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Image courtesy of Cindy LustigParts of the brain involved in a “resting network” show large differences between young adults, older adults, and people with Alzheimer’s disease.Researchers tracking the ebb and flow of cognitive function in the human brain have discovered surprising differences in the ability of younger and older adults to shut down a brain network normally active during periods of passive daydreaming. The differences, which are especially pronounced in people with dementia, may provide a clear and powerful new method for diagnosing individuals in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.