Breakdown of neural networks could help doctors track, better understand spread of Alzheimer's in brain
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have taken one of the first detailed looks into how Alzheimer's disease disrupts coordination among several of the brain's networks. The results, reported in The Journal of Neuroscience, include some of the earliest assessments of Alzheimer's effects on networks that are active when the brain is at rest.
"Until now, most research into Alzheimer's effects on brain networks has either focused on the networks that become active during a mental task, or the default mode network, the primary network that activates when a person is daydreaming or letting the mind wander," says senior author Beau Ances, MD, assistant professor of neurology. "There are, however, a number of additional networks besides the default mode network that become active when the brain is idling and could tell us important things about Alzheimer's effects."
Ances and his colleagues analyzed brain scans of 559 subjects. Some of these subjects were cognitively normal, while others were in the early stages of very mild to mild Alzheimer's disease. Scientists found that all of the networks they studied eventually became impaired during the initial stages of Alzheimer's.
"Communications within and between networks are disrupted, but it doesn't happen all at once," Ances says. "There's even one network that has a momentary surge of improved connections before it starts dropping again. That's the salience network, which helps you determine what in your environment you need to pay attention to."
Other networks studied by the researchers included:
- the dorsal attention network, which directs attention toward things in the environment that are salient;
- the control network, believed to be active in consciousness and decision-making; and
- the sensory-motor network, which integrates the brain's control of body movements with sensory feedback (e.g., did the finger that just moved strike the right piano key?).
The default mode network, previously identified as one of the first networks to be impaired by Alzheimer's, is a partner in two of the three pairs of anti-correlated networks scientist studied.
"While we can't prove this yet, one hypothesis is that as things go wrong in the processing of information in the default mode network, that mishandled data is passed on to other networks, where it creates additional problems," Ances says.
It's not practical to use these network breakdowns to clinically diagnose Alzheimer's disease, Ances notes, but they may help track the development of the disease and aid efforts to better understand its spread through the brain.
Ances plans to look at other markers for Alzheimer's disease in the same subjects, such as levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of amyloid beta, a major component of Alzheimer's plaques.
More information: Brier MR, Thomas JB, Snyder AZ, Benziger TL, Zhang D, Raichle ME, Holtzman DM, Morris JC, Ances BM. Loss of intranetwork and internetwork resting state functional connections with Alzheimer's progression. The Journal of Neuroscience, June 27, 2012. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5698-11.2012
Journal reference: Journal of Neuroscience
- Brain's 'autopilot' provides insight into early development of Alzheimer's disease Jan 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Cells talk more in areas Alzheimer's hits first, boosting plaque component May 02, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Brain changes in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer's revealed in MRI scans Dec 15, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Alzheimer's plaques disrupt brain networks Apr 20, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Brain connectivity altered in type 2 diabetes Aug 01, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
20 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Neuroscience 11 hours ago | 4 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Moving objects attract greater attention – a fact exploited by video screens in public spaces and animated advertising banners on the Internet. For most animal species, moving objects also play a major ...
Neuroscience 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
It is known that signs of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease can appear years before the disease becomes manifest; these signs take the form of subtle changes in the brain and behavior of ...
Neuroscience 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Scientists have reversed behavioral and brain abnormalities in adult mice that resemble some features of schizophrenia by restoring normal expression to a suspect gene that is over-expressed in humans with ...
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have unraveled the molecular foundations of cocaine's effects on the brain, and identified a compound that blocks cravings for the drug in cocaine-addicted mice. The compound, already proven safe ...
Neuroscience 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
14 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (7) | 0 |
Existing research shows that bicyclists who wear helmets have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury, but researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that simply having bicycle helmet laws in place showed a 20 percent ...
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
14 hours ago | 4.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 2 |
11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |