Imaging in "Healthy" Aging and Dementia: A Bigger Sandbox
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A growing consensus in the field of dementia research is that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) starts long before, perhaps decades before, the manifestation of its cognitive phenotype. Further, recent research suggests that reduction in accumulation of abnormal proteins characteristic of AD does not change cognition in early AD. Hence, some investigators believe that intervention must take place before cognitive symptoms occur and prevention is becoming an emphasis. To foster development of prevention strategies, the dementia field is moving toward discovery of biomarkers that predict the emergence of AD in cognitively normal older adults and define the cascade of biological events leading to it. Magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy technologies are being applied in the search for cerebrovascular, biochemical, and structural biomarkers to predict AD. As a result of this biomarker search, some of the variance in aging-related biological and cognitive processes is being explained. The resulting rapid evolution of imaging and other biomarkers for AD may revolutionize cognitive aging research. This presentation will focus on promising neuroimaging biomarkers and their implications.