Cortex size might indicate higher risk of developing Alzheimer's

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 2, 2012

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Among people who do not have memory problems, those with smaller regions of the brain's cortex have an increased risk of developing symptoms of early Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published online Dec. 21 in Neurology.

Researchers used MRI screens to measure the thickness of regions of the brain's cortex in 159 adults without dementia. Participants were an average age of 76.

They identified 19 of the participants as at high risk of developing preclinical Alzheimer's disease due to the smaller size of particular regions in the brain's cortex (link).

Preclinical Alzheimer's is the first phase of the disease in which a person experiences detrimental neurologic changes before overt symptoms are present.

Researchers classified 116 participants as at average risk of developing the condition, and 24 were low risk.

They found that 21% of those at high risk experienced cognitive decline during three years of follow-up after the MRI scan compared with 7% of people at average risk. No one in the low-risk group had cognitive decline.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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