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PET and MRI Scans of the brain

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´╗┐Positron Emission Tomography (PET) 1. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans detect special radioactively labelled tracers which are injected into a patient's body before the imaging procedure starts. 2. PET scans can be used to accurately monitor brain activity while a patient's memory and cognition are being tested. 3. PET scans can determine brain activity and function by measuring differences in blood flow and the usage of glucose (sugar), both of which increase when an area of the brain is active. 4. PET scans provide information about brain function and activity as opposed to brain structure, and are more typically used in research. 5. The scans are made by injecting the patient with a form of sugar that has been altered to carry a weak, short-lived radioactive element. ...read more.


The resulting scans show the level of activity using a scale of colours; red and orange for high activity, and blue and purple for low. 7. Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine have developed a brain-scan-based computer programme that quickly and accurately measures metabolic activity in the hippocampus. Using PET scans and the computer programme the researchers showed that in the early stages of Alzheimer?s disease there is a reduction in brain metabolism in the hippocampus. 8. In a longitudinal study they followed a sample of 53 normal and healthy participants ? some for 9 years and others for as long as 24 years. They found that individuals who showed early signs of reduced metabolism in the hippocampus were associated with later development of Alzheimer?s disease. ...read more.


of the hippocampus that occurs when substantial numbers of cells die. 4. Research has found that shrinkage can be detected even before symptoms interfere with daily function. 5. Goshe et al (2000) looked at MRI results for 119 patients with varying degrees of cognitive impairment. Some patients were normal, some had cognitive impairment at the time of the MRI, and others were already diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The researchers (who did not have access to the patients' files) were 100% accurate when determining which patients had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and which had no symptoms. The study reported a 93% accuracy rate when researchers were asked to distinguish between patients with no symptoms and patients who had only mild cognitive impairment, but were not yet diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (-) The machines are expensive to buy and to use. (+) They offer scientific, reliable and valid findings. ...read more.

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