A team of Sylvie Belleville of the Research Centre at the Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal have shed light on brain's progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's-type dementia by showing the typical patterns.
The study compared changes that occurred over many years in people with stable MCI with changes in people for whom MCI progressed to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
The study showed that different cognitive areas (language, inhibition, visuo-spatial processing, working memory, executive functions, etc.) do not change in a uniform way. Cognitive decline does not occur in a linear fashion; instead, the path to dementia is complex and may sometimes be characterized by periods of stability followed by accelerated decline one or two years before diagnosis.
Researchers have identified a profile of changes that characterizes people who progress towards dementia. In reality, a quick decline in episodic and working memory associated with language problems appears to be the typical profile of people who have a high risk of developing dementia within a short amount of time, the researcher explained. Instead of seeing this as bad news, Belleville views these results as hope for seniors who are worried about their memories.
Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed late in its progression and sometimes up to fifteen years after its first effects on the brain. It is important to identify the early indicators so that patients can receive treatment as soon as possible. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease