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New Evidence of Alzheimer's Found Before Usual Symptoms

August 17, 2000

UCLA scientists have found fresh evidence that the brains of those destined to develop Alzheimer's disease are forced to work harder to perform various tasks long before any obvious symptoms of the memory-robbing disease appear, according to a report in today's New England Journal of Medicine. In tests on 30 volunteers ages 47 to 82, Dr. Susan Bookheimer and her colleagues discovered that people with a genetic propensity toward Alzheimer's use a larger portion of the brain to perform a given job than those without the genetic link. The findings suggest that their brains work harder than normal to overcome an inborn defect. The magnetic resonance imaging scans, or MRIs, could eventually be used to detect early signs of the disease and to test the efficacy of potential Alzheimer's drugs, Bookheimer said.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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