Leyla Raiani
Apr 11, 2012

New MRI technique may predict progress of dementia

A new technique for analyzing brain images offers the possibility of using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict the progression and physical path of many degenerative brain diseases, report scientists at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.The scientists employed new computer modeling techniques to realistically predict the physical progression of Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) using images of 14 healthy brains. The models were based on whole-brain tractography, an MRI technique that maps the neural pathways, or 'communication wires,' that connect different areas of the brain. The spread of disease along those pathways, as predicted by the models, closely matched actual MRI images of brain degeneration in 18 Alzheimer's patients and 18 FTD patients. This would be extremely useful in planning treatment, and in helping patients and families know what to expect as dementia progresses.