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October 24/31, 2001

PET and Memory Impairment

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JAMA. 2001;286(16):1961. doi:10.1001/jama.286.16.1961-JQU10009-4-1

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brains of elderly men and women have predicted who would develop memory impairment, said researchers from New York University School of Medicine. Their findings appear in the September 11 issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a 3-year study, the investigators followed up 48 healthy men and women aged 60 to 80 years. At the study's beginning, everyone scored within the normal range on a battery of tests used to detect early loss of memory and other mental skills. The PET scans revealed a reduction in glucose metabolism in the entorhinal cortex in 12 people. Three years later, of these 12 people, one had developed Alzheimer disease and the other 11 experienced mild cognitive impairment—which carries a high risk for future onset of Alzheimer disease. Individuals with normal PET scans did not show any signs of mental decline at 3-year follow-up.

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