Researchers have tapped into a new computer-based technique in the hopes of identifying and treating Alzheimer’s earlier.

As the Alzheimer’s disease progresses, damaged cell membranes in the brain allow water molecules to move more freely in the brain, which in turn can cause neuron cells to die, leading to brain atrophy. University of California, Irvine researchers have developed a computer mapping technique to evaluate apparent diffusion coefficient, or ADC, a measurement used to study the distribution of water in the brain.

The computer program will allow doctors to identify Alzheimer’s disease earlier, learn more about how the disease develops and find better treatments for those diagnosed with the disease, according to experts. Information on the research is published in Radiology.