Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease treatments can slow its progress especially if they are administered early on. Because Alzheimer's affects the brain it is very difficult to make a physical diagnosis of the condition. A diagnosis is usually made on the basis of symptoms, sometimes being confirmed retrospectively via post mortem examination. However, a new technique using near-infrared light could allow Alzheimer's to be diagnosed much earlier. Near-infrared light can safely penetrate the skull and pass harmlessly through the brain. Inside the head some of the infrared light scatters, however, and how the light scatters can tell researchers about the condition of the brain. The plaques in the brain formed in Alzheimer's disease scatter the light differently from normal tissue - a difference the researchers were able to pick up and measure.
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