AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


Identifying Typical Patterns in the Progression Towards Alzheimer’s Disease

Pinpointing how the brain progresses from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer’s-type dementia has long perplexed the scientific community. However, researchers from the Université de Montréal recently shed light on this progression by showing the typical patterns the brain undergoes on the path to dementia. During the study, the research team 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 disease. The results of 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. “We’ve 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,” said the study’s lead researcher, who also noted that the presence of a change in memory is what determines the risk of progression. To read more about this study, click here.

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