Size of hippocampus may indicate early dementia

November 15, 2010

The size of the part of the brain known as the hippocampus may be linked to future dementia, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is a condition where the cognitive functions are impaired - though not as severely as in dementia - and is a precursor to several types of dementia.

"One of the challenges for the healthcare is identifying which MCI patients have an underlying dementia disorder, which is why we need new tools to detect the early signs of dementia," says Carl Eckerström, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy's Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry, and doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital's memory clinic.

Atrophy of the hippocampus is common in Alzheimer's disease. The thesis shows that the hippocampus may also be affected in small vessel disease (SIVD) which, along with Alzheimer's, are the two most common types of dementia. SIVD is characterised by damage to the brain's white matter and is considered to be the most important type of vascular dementia in the elderly.

Researchers measured the extent of changes to white matter in 122 MCI patients, and compared this with the size of their hippocampus. The patients were divided into two categories - one group who subsequently developed dementia after two years, and a second group whose clinical status remained unchanged after two years. There was also a group of healthy controls. The results showed that there may be a link between damage to the white matter and a reduction in the size of the hippocampus, which means that damage to the white matter could play a part in a process that leads to hippocampal atrophy.

"I believe that measuring the hippocampus could be a useful clinical instrument for investigating whether a person is in the early stages of dementia, as our findings suggest that the size of the hippocampus is linked to a deterioration in cognitive function and dementia," says Eckerström.
-end-
THE HIPPOCAMPUS

The hippocampus is part of the limbic system and is located deep in the temporal lobe. It is vital for our ability to learn and is known as the brain's memory centre. The hippocampus also helps with spatial awareness, enabling us to navigate our way around new places.

Title of thesis: Hippocampal volumetry in mild cognitive impairment

The thesis has been successfully defended.

Link to thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/22902

University of Gothenburg

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.