Researchers map links between size of hippocampus and progression to Alzheimer's dementia

FINDINGS: UCLA researchers sought to test the theory that the hippocampus -- the area of the brain that processes memory -- is smaller in patients with mild cognitive impairment who develop into Alzheimer's dementia, and that it is larger in patients with mild cognitive impairment who experience cognitive stability or improvement. Using novel 3-D mapping techniques to analyze MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) data from 20 patients with mild cognitive impairment, they found that the patients with the smaller hippocampus did, in fact, face an increased risk of developing dementia.

IMPACT: The technique helps physicians detect subtle anatomical differences and can be applied to any disease affecting the hippocampus such as other forms of dementia, epilepsy, hippocampal sclerosis, etc. Tools such as this for predicting cognitive decline hold great promise for patient counseling, advanced planning and therapeutic decision-making.

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AUTHORS: Liana G. Apostolova, Rebecca A. Dutton, Ivo D. Dinov, Kiralee M. Hayashi, Arthur W. Toga, Jeffrey L. Cummings, and Paul M. Thompson. All are from the UCLA departments of Neurology and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the UCLA Department of Statistics

JOURNAL: The research appears in the May issue of the Archives of Neurology.

FUNDERS: Beeson Career Development Award in Aging (jointly sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, American Federation for Aging Research, The John A. Hartford Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, The Starr Foundation and an anonymous donor), the Kassel Parkinson's Disease Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center for Research Resources and the National Science Foundation.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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