Early diagnosis of dementia is important both in terms of treating people to delay its onset and in helping relatives to prepare for their role as caregivers. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a computer programme called Freesurfer and have been using it to analyse the MRI scans of older adults with a remarkable degree of success. They studied 217 people: 58 of them had mild cognitive impairment which later went on to develop into Alzheimer's disease, 65 had probable Alzheimer's disease and the rest were unaffected. By concentrating on three areas of the brain - the entorhinal cortex, the hippocampus and the supramarginal gyrus - the programme was able to tell with 95% accuracy which of the sample had mild cognitive impairment and with 100% accuracy which of the sample had Alzheimer's.
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