In Alzheimer's disease nerve cell death and tissue loss cause all areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus to shrink. When Alzheimer's is diagnosed early drug treatment can help to improve or stabilize patient symptoms. MRI scans can be used to measure anatomical changes in the brain but evaluating brain shrinkage is a complex, lengthy process. Researchers in France have developed an automated system for doing this, which, they hope, will speed things up considerably. The researchers used the new system to scan 25 people with Alzheimer's disease, 24 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 25 healthy older adults and found the hippocampus had shrunk by 32% in those with Alzheimer's and 19% in those with MCI. These figures were consistent with those found by manual methods of MRI interpretation but were produced much more quickly.
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