Measuring differences in brain chemicals in people with mild memory problems

ScienceDaily | 3/19/2019 | Staff
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The researchers believe that measuring such data over time will allow them to more accurately detect and describe changes in metabolism in the brain as a person progresses from healthy to mild cognitive impairment and to dementia.

The findings were published in the January issue of Neurobiology of Aging.

Day - Technology - Changes - Brain - Chemistry

"We hope one day to use this technology to understand the earliest changes in brain chemistry that are associated with cognitive and behavioral symptoms that could represent new targets for treatment," says Gwenn S. Smith, Ph.D., the Richman Family Professor of Alzheimer's and Related Diseases, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry. "Right now, we don't know the biological mechanism in the brain that initiates memory impairment, and we believe that using this technique we may eventually be able to understand the chemical changes in the brain that trigger this damage, and perhaps one day intervene to prevent it."

The researchers say they detected a decrease in two particular chemical messengers, GABA and glutamate, in people who have mild cognitive impairment, compared with those who do not have it.

Studies - Researchers - Kinds - Brain - Imaging

Previous studies by the researchers showed that other kinds of brain imaging, notably PET scans, uniquely could detect the neurotransmitters -- the brain's chemical messengers -- serotonin and dopamine. Both of these chemicals are involved in mood, memory and cognitive decline. But, each chemical measured this way requires its own PET scan.

The technology used in the new study, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), is very similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create and project images of tissues and organs. Whereas MRI primarily measures the brain's water, MRS has been long used to identify chemical breakdown products, or metabolites, in an unknown...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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