Currently, there aren’t many brain scanning techniques widely accessible by the public. For Alzheimer’s disease, only two brain scans are available – a PET and CT brain scan.
A PET brain scan uses radioactive markers to look for biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease, while a CT brain scan measures brain size and can assess whether brain shrinkage is occurring.
These two techniques are effective but can be invasive, expensive and not readily available to all Australians. There might, however, be a third technique to add to the list.
New research published in the journal Human Brain Mapping has looked at another brain scanning technique for Alzheimer’s disease, known as magnetoencephalography (MEG).
This brain scan is less invasive to a PET brain scan, as all that is required is for electrodes to be placed on your head while brain activity is measured against certain stimulus. For example, it is commonly used to understand epilepsy.
In this study, participants’ brain activity was measured in response to noises. They specifically looked at the activation of the medial prefrontal cortex part of the brain. This brain region has been implicated in personality expression, decision making and moderating social behaviours. It is also considered to have a vital role in executive function, such as determining differences between good and bad, current and future events or the potential risks when making decisions.
In the study, the researchers found that during the MEG scan, activation of the medial prefrontal cortex was a potential sign of Alzheimer’s disease and could be used as another method for diagnosing the disease.
As with most new findings, the researchers now want to validate their results in a larger trial before making firm conclusions about the results from their study.
Read the original research here