New method predicts Alzheimer's in two-year window

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A new study has led to a breakthrough in the process to identify people who will fall victim to Alzheimer's disease.

The research predicted with 90% accuracy which mild cognitive impairment sufferers would develop Alzheimer's disease within two years. Findings were published in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The combination of brain imaging analysis and a neuropsychological assessment allowed the team to uncover which subjects would develop Alzheimer's and those who would not. Sylvie Belleville, Ph.D., Director of Research at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, an institution affiliated with Université de Montréal, led the study.

"When used individually, neuroimaging and neuropsychology are effective but only up to a certain point. It is when combining and analyzing the results from both methods that we could achieve such an exceptional level of accuracy," Belleville said.

The researchers' baseline measures included MRI measures of hippocampal volume, cortical thickness and white matter hyperintensities and varied measures of episodic memory and executive control functions. The strongest neuroimaging predictors were baseline cortical thickness in the right anterior cingulate and middle frontal gyri. Recall and recognition episodic memory tasks were highly suggestive of progression to dementia.