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Does the brain have a weak spot for dementia?

Does the brain have a weak spot for dementia?
25th November 2014

The brain has a dementia weak spot, according to British scientists.

Experts analysed brain scans and noticed that a certain region was more susceptible to degeneration, which could also bring about schizophrenia, BBC News reports.

It is hoped that this discovery will lead to both conditions being diagnosed earlier, which is imperative in the fight against dementia.

Scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) did MRI scans on 484 healthy volunteers and examined how the brain goes through transformation as it gets older. 

It transpired that a certain region of the brain - a network of nerve cells or grey matter - was the last to develop and demonstrated the earliest signs of decline due to age. This network regulates the information that comes from the sense, like sight and sound.

There was a striking similarity between the scans of those with the degenerative condition and those with schizophrenia. This is because the same areas of the brain were adversely impacted. 

Prof Hugh Perry of the MRC said: "This large-scale and detailed study provides an important - and previously missing - link between development, ageing and disease processes in the brain.

"It raises important issues about possible genetic and environmental factors that may occur in early life and then have lifelong consequences." 

Scientists had previously thought there was a connection between the two conditions, even though they were different. 

Dr Michael Bloomfield from University College London said that this new knowledge could enable scientists to work out how to stop brain changes before they take place. 

A great deal of research is currently being undertaken to learn more about the brain and how it works in a bid to combat the onset of dementia. The earlier the condition can be diagnosed in individuals, the better chance there is of fighting it. 

While a cure does not yet exist, scientists believe that adopting a healthy lifestyle - such as exercising, drinking alcohol in moderation and eating well - can help to keep the brain healthy. 

Read more about Barchester's dementia care homes