MRI scan predicts cognitive decline in Parkinson's patients, study finds

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An MRI scan that detects atrophy patterns in the brains of Alzheimer's patients also can detect cognitive decline in Parkinson's patients, a new finds.

Investigators say this technology can predict which patients with Parkinson's disease will experience long-term cognitive decline or develop dementia in the future. Close to 80% of Parkinson's patients develop dementia as the disease progresses.

"Diagnostic tests like this can help us determine which patients would benefit from future clinical trials of medications aiming to stave off or prevent dementia progression in Parkinson's disease," the study's lead author, Daniel Weintraub, M.D., said. He is an associate professor of Geriatric Psychiatry with Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The study was published online in the journal Brain.