A new study shows that the brain has a weak spot for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Researchers from the United Kingdom have identified an area in the brain that develops late in adolescence but shows the earliest signs of aging. Learn more about this study and the link between Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
Weak Spot Links Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia
A new study from the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom evaluated MRI imaging results on 484 healthy volunteers between the ages of 8-85. The images showed that the parts of the brain that were the last to develop in early adolescence were the first to show signs of decline. The brain region affected is responsible for coordinating information coming from the senses and helps the brain identify sight and sound.
When researchers compared the scans of people with Alzheimer’s to the scans of people with schizophrenia they found that the same regions of the brain were affected in people with both conditions, providing more evidence that the two disorders are linked.
Professor Hugh Perry of the Medical Research Council said this study provided missing evidence linking the two conditions:
“Early doctors called schizophrenia ‘premature dementia’ but until now we had no clear evidence that the same parts of the brain might be associated with two such different diseases.”
He added that the “recent large-scale and detailed study provides an important, and previously missing, link between development, aging and disease processes in the brain.”
Identifying “At-Risk” People Earlier
While more research is needed before using these findings to predict and diagnose either condition, researchers hope that their findings will help diagnose people at risk earlier and enable them to get help before symptoms occur.
Researchers continue to focus on prevention as the main way to treat Alzheimer’s, which is expected to reach epidemic proportions in the near future. The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 35 million people worldwide currently have Alzheimer’s and 115 million people will have Alzheimer’s by 2050.
How do you think the new discovery of a weak spot linking both Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia will help researchers advance their studies? Share your thoughts on the discovery in the comments below.