Measuring Brain Thickness Identifies Risk for Cognitive Decline, Penn Study Shows

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Media Contact:Kim Menard | | (215) 662-6183December 22, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - A new measurement tool can identify cognitively normal adults who are at high risk for cognitive decline, according to a new study by collaborators at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School. The study is published in the December 21, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The team looked at measurements of cortical thickness in the brain, an indicator of brain atrophy usually due to loss of neurons or their connections. Using MRI scans, they measured cortical thickness in several brain regions that had previously been shown to be associated with the injury due to early Alzheimer’s disease. In this case, these measurements were obtained in cognitively normal adults who were followed over time, allowing the researchers to assess whether cortical thinning in these regions tracked with their cognitive abilities.

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