The researchers analyzed the characteristics of resting-state functional neural networks, and to observe mild cognitive impairment at different stages before the transformation to Alzheimer's disease. Results showed that as cognitive deficits increased across the four groups, the shortest path in the resting-state functional network gradually increased, while clustering coefficients gradually decreased. This evidence indicates that dementia is associated with a decline of brain network efficiency.
In addition, the changes in functional networks revealed the progressive deterioration of network function across brain regions from healthy elderly adults to those with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. The alterations of node attributes in brain regions may reflect the cognitive functions in brain regions, and we speculate that early impairments in memory, hearing, and language function can eventually lead to diffuse brain injury and other cognitive impairments. This study was published in the Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 8, No. 30, 2013).