MR-detected brain atrophy predicts decline in elderly

February 11, 2006

Cognitively healthy elderly people who experience atrophy in the amygdala and hippocampus are more likely to develop dementia, according to a study in the January Archives of General Psychiatry.

Cognitively healthy elderly people who experience atrophy in the amygdala and hippocampus are more likely to develop dementia, according to a study in the January Archives of General Psychiatry.

Dr. Tom den Heijer and colleagues of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam used MRI to assess the brain volumes of 511 dementia-free elderly subjects in the Rotterdam Study, a large population-based cohort study that began in 1990.

Over the six-year follow-up period, 35 participants developed dementia, and 26 of those were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Volume reductions between 5% and 17% were strongly associated with the development of dementia, according to the study. In participants with mild to moderate AD, volume reduction rates were between 25% and 40%, suggesting that atrophy rates accelerate in patients with AD.