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New Brain Scan May Help Spot Alzheimer's

Diffusion tensor imaging sees how healthy brain is in cases of memory loss, study shows

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of brain scan might give doctors more insight into whether patients with memory loss are suffering from Alzheimer's disease, researchers say.

The findings are published in the Jan. 6 online edition of the journal Neurology.

"Our findings show this type of brain scan appears to be a better way to measure how healthy the brain is in people who are experiencing memory loss. This might help doctors when trying to differentiate between normal aging and diseases like Alzheimer's," study author Giovanni Carlesimo, of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

Along with MRI scans, Carlesimo said, the technology "could serve as an important tool in understanding how and why a person experiences memory decline."

The researchers used the technology, known as diffusion tensor imaging, to scan the brains of 76 healthy people, aged 20 to 80, in Rome.

The technology allows better detection of changes in brain chemistry. In the study, the researchers focused on the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a role in Alzheimer's disease.

After giving various tests to the participants, the study authors found that the scanning technology did a better job of explaining memory declines than an approach using a traditional MRI scan.

More information

Learn more about Alzheimer's disease from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Jan. 6, 2010
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