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On December 22, 2014, Posted by , In Alzheimer's Disease,Caregivers, By ,,,, , With Comments Off on Respite Care Services in Bloomfield Hills, MI

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s: A New Diagnostic Tool?

Learning how the human brain works to predict the future could help people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, according to researchers from Washington University.

Medicalnewstoday.com reports that a new study, soon to be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, has found that the prediction mechanism by which we learn new information and initiate physical movement is controlled by the same part of the brain affected by both Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

While showing young people videos of mundane events like people washing clothes and cars, researchers took functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of their brains. Periodically, the researchers halted the videos either in the middle of an event or right as a new event was about to begin. They then asked the people viewing the videos to predict what would happen next.

What the scientists found was that a certain region of the brain would light up when people were asked to guess what would happen next in a video. This region, the substantia nigra, is the same area that is most affected by Parkinson’s and appears to also have some link to the confusion experienced by people with Alzheimer’s.

According to the National Institutes of Health, in addition to aiding in the prediction of near-future events, the substantia nigra is also a major player in the process that leads to the discharge of chemicals that help people move properly. When Parkinson’s destroys the substantia nigra, it impairs a person’s coordination and ability to move.

The research could lead to more effective ways to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s earlier.
Source: agingcare.com

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