Researchers tracking the ebb and flow of cognitive function in the human brain have discovered surprising differences in the ability of younger and older adults to shut down a brain network normally active during periods of passive daydreaming. The differences, which are especially pronounced in people with dementia, may provide a clear and powerful new method for diagnosing individuals in the very early stages of Alzheimers disease.
"In young adults, there are parts of the brain that are very active during a passive free-thinking state, but these areas appear to shut down dramatically or turn off when the person is asked to do something," said Cindy Lustig, research team member and post-doctoral fellow in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. "Interestingly, older people, especially those with Alzheimers disease, dont show this same kind of brain activity during free- thinking, resting conditions."
In a study published Nov. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, Lustig and colleagues detail results of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) tests conducted on groups of young adults, older adults and adults experiencing early signs of Alzheimers-related dementia.
Gerry Everding | EurekAlert!
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