Scientists have tried to understand the difference between the changes our brain undergoes during its natural aging and when it is affected by Alzheimer's disease. Through the consultation of thousands of MRIs, they discovered that some parts of the brain atrophied.

Researchers from the CNRS, the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE) and the University of Valencia (Spain) have analyzed more than 4000 MRIs of "healthy" brains and Alzheimer's-affected brains in order to understand the difference between the natural aging of the brain and the evolution caused by the disease.

Before the first symptoms

Our brain evolves throughout our lifefrom our birth to our death. Some diseases, including Alzheimer changes our brain. Scientists have therefore decided to compare 4000 brain MRI to understand how a healthy brain evolves and especially at what age changes can be seen between the normal trajectory of aging and changes in the brain by the Alzheimer's disease.

For the purposes of the study, they consulted 2944 MRIs of healthy controls (ranging from a few months to 94 years). This allowed them to establish a "normal" model of average brain progress. CNRS researchers then compared it to an average pathological model. The latter was established from MRIs of 1385 sick subjects aged over 55 years and 1877 young controls.

40 years

The researchers found after comparing it to MRIs of subjects with Alzheimer's disease over the age of 55 a early divergence pathological models compared to the normal trajectory of aging. Scientists have established that for hippocampus, the change had been found before age 40 and around 40 years for the amygdala. These areas of the brain atrophy when they are affected by Alzheimer's disease.

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Researchers from the CNRS, the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and the University of Valencia have also discovered that cavities of the brain called lateral ventricles tended to expand early for patients with Alzheimer's disease.

The cavities of the brain participate in the secretion and circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid in which the central nervous system is bathed. But the interest of this discovery in particular seems limited because it was found the same things in the healthy subjects whose brain was aging normally.

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