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Researchers Identified Weak Spot in the Brain Linked to Dementia, Schizophrenia

Update Date: Nov 25, 2014 01:51 PM EST

A new study uncovered a weak spot in the brain that appears to be linked to Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, and schizophrenia.

For this study, the researchers from the United Kingdom took MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans of 484 healthy participants aged eight to 85 to examine how the brain changes with time. Based from these images, the team discovered one common trend: the parts of the brain that were the last to develop were also the ones to show the earliest signs of age-related decline.

Lead researcher Dr. Gwenaëlle Douaud of Oxford University stated that these regions of the brains were tied to "high order" information processing, such as sight and sound. When the team looked at these regions of the brain in patients with Alzheimer's or schizophrenia, they found that these same parts were affected in a similar way.

"Early doctors called schizophrenia 'premature dementia' but until now we had no clear evidence that the same parts of the brain might be associated with two such different diseases. This large-scale and detailed study provides an important, and previously missing, link between development, ageing and disease processes in the brain," professor Hugh Perry of the Medical Research Council, said reported by BBC News. "It raises important issues about possible genetic and environmental factors that may occur in early life and then have lifelong consequences. The more we can find out about these very difficult disorders, the closer we will come to helping sufferers and their families."

The study was published in PNAS.

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