People with a large hippocampus in the brain may be able to avert memory loss even if they have Alzheimer's plaques, a new study has indicated.
Autopsies have proved that some people die with sharp minds and perfect memories, even though their brains showed large traces of plaques of Alzheimer's disease, but now researchers have said that it is all because of the large hippocampus in these people.
"This larger hippocampus may protect these people from the effects of Alzheimer's disease-related brain changes. Hopefully this will lead us eventually to prevention strategies," said study author Deniz Erten-Lyons, MD, with Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.
To conduct the study, the researchers analysed the brains of 12 people who had sharp memories and thinking skills at the time of death, but whose autopsies showed a high amount of Alzheimer's plaques. Later their brains were compared to those of 23 people having the same amount of plaques in their brains, but who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease before death.
The results revealed that the volume of the hippocampus part of the brain was 20 percent greater in the cognitively intact group compared to the Alzheimer's disease group with dementia.
The two groups did not have any other demographic, clinical or pathological differences and the results did not change on the basis of gender, age, and total brain volume.
The research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago.