Pet scans detect brain differences in people at risk for Alzheimer's

rforming a memory task, however, showed clear differences between the two groups. As the participants tried to remember if they'd seen a particular shape before, one pattern of brain activation appeared in the APOE- 4 carriers while a different pattern appeared in the non-carriers.

Dr. Scarmeas says the difference may indicate that APOE- 4 carriers have to compensate for early damage done by Alzheimer's by switching to an alternate brain network to complete the task. It could also be that their different genetic makeup results in different patterns of brain activity.

In previous studies, Dr Scarmeas has demonstrated APOE-related changes in brain activity in patients that already have Alzheimer's disease and in healthy, young, college-age people. Drs Scarmeas, Stern and a large group of other researchers at the Taub Institute are using advanced brain imaging techniques to examine changes in cognition and brain function as a result of normal aging and brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease.


Contact: Karen Zipern
Columbia University Medical Center

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