Researchers have identified a marker which should help to detect Alzheimer's disease earlier, according to a study in the October issue of Radiology.
While participants performed a face-name associative memory task, the scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify brain regions in which changes suggesting memory impairment took place.
Whereas some areas of the brain activate when a person tries to recall information, other areas deactivate.
The study showed that along the spectrum from healthy to Alzheimer's disease, there was increasingly impaired activation in the MTL, an area of the brain that normally turns on during a memory task.
More significantly, there was also increasingly impaired deactivation in the posteromedial cortices, an area recently implicated with personal memory.
The scientists concluded that deactivation in the PMC may represent a more sensitive marker of early Alzheimer's disease.
Lead author Dr Jeffrey Petrella said: "The findings of this study implicate a potential functional, rather than structural, brain marker - separate from atrophy - that may help enhance diagnosis and treatment monitoring of Alzheimer's patients."
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