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A digital map of aging brains has been created at the University of Edinburgh and could soon help provide a road map in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
MRI “atlases” of the brain are not new, but most are based on the brains of younger or middle-aged people and don’t reflect normal changes associated with aging. The atlas created by the University of Edinburgh, showcased in a study published online in PLOS ONE, is the first nonparametric MRI atlas based on scans of older individuals.
“Comparison of individual scans with atlases of normal older subjects may assist in future to diagnose faster-than-usual brain tissue loss in prodromal dementia, or to diagnose types of established dementia by differentiating patterns of abnormal brain tissue,” wrote David Alexander Dickie, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh's Brain Research Imaging Centre, and colleagues. “We have demonstrated that much of the cortex and subcortical [grey matter] voxels are not distributed approximately Gaussian in normal aging. We therefore conclude that nonparametric atlases may be useful when assessing possible neurodegenerative disease in older age.”
Earlier diagnoses are currently our strongest defense against these devastating diseases and, while our work is preliminary and ongoing, digital brain atlases are likely to be at the core of this defense.
To read the full article on Heath Imaging, click here.




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