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2005 Grant - Machulda
Functional MRI Activation Patterns in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) Subtypes
Mary M. Machulda, Ph.D.
2005 New Investigator Research Grant
Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition in which a person's cognitive capability is slightly impaired. Many people with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia, but some will not. Because Alzheimer's disease must be treated early, the ability to predict the progression of symptoms in people with MCI would be enormously helpful.
Mary M. Machulda, Ph.D., and colleagues will test the ability of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify those people who are most likely to progress from MCI to full blown dementia. Because fMRI can visualize activity in the brain, it may distinguish damaged areas from those that are working normally. This could be extremely important in making diagnoses, because scientists and doctors recently observed that the number of brain areas impaired may be a good indication of whether MCI will develop into dementia.
Machulda and colleagues will carry out fMRI scans of people with several different subtypes of MCI, focusing, in particular, on the presence or absence of amnesia, or loss of memory, and other forms of cognitive impairment. Recent findings suggest that people with amnesia-only MCI go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, while those with other mild cognitive defects develop other disorders causing dementia. The findings might pinpoint those brain changes that are indicative of subsequent Alzheimer's or other dementias, and they may lead to more accurate diagnoses and early intervention for people with MCI.