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How brain progresses towards Alzheimer’s Disease

Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. About 24 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In Mexico, 600,000 Mexicans out of 9 million adults over the age 60 suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the Institute of Geriatrics (INGER). Picture taken April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. About 24 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In Mexico, 600,000 Mexicans out of 9 million adults over the age 60 suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the Institute of Geriatrics (INGER). Picture taken April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)

Washington: A new research has shed light on brain’s progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s-type dementia by showing the typical patterns.

The team of Sylvie Belleville of the Research Centre at the Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal compared changes that occurred over many years in people with stable MCI with changes in people for whom MCI progressed to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

The study showed that different cognitive areas (language, inhibition, visuo-spatial processing, working memory, executive functions, etc.) do not change in a uniform way. Cognitive decline does not occur in a linear fashion; instead, the path to dementia is complex and may sometimes be characterized by periods of stability followed by accelerated decline one or two years before diagnosis.

Researchers have identified a profile of changes that characterizes people who progress towards dementia. In reality, a quick decline in episodic and working memory associated with language problems appears to be the typical profile of people who have a high risk of developing dementia within a short amount of time, the researcher explained.

Instead of seeing this as bad news, Belleville views these results as hope for seniors who are worried about their memories.

Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed late in its progression and sometimes up to fifteen years after its first effects on the brain. It is important to identify the early indicators so that patients can receive treatment as soon as possible.

The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. (ANI)