More and more studies report of psychiatric problems being associated with abnormalities in the brain. Affirming this further, scientists from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) have put forth that individuals not manifesting any memory problems at present, but having smaller portions related to the brain’s cortex may be at risk for early stage Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, about 159 persons devoid of dementia aged 76 on an average were exposed to MRI scans to gauge the width of brain parts associated with the cortex. According to the outcomes, 19 patients with smaller size of certain parts related to the cortex were reported of being in the high risk group.

While nearly 116 fell into the moderate risk category, 24 of them were considered to be at low risk for the disease. Further, the subjects were also asked to fill in tests for comprehending their memory, problem solving capabilities and attention spans. Of the individuals in the high risk group, approximately 21% seemed to succumb to cognitive decline in the 3-year follow-up period. On the other hand, almost 7% in the average risk group and apparently no one from the low risk group experienced cognitive impairment during these years.

“Further research is needed on how using MRI scans to measure the size of different brain regions in combination with other tests may help identify people at the greatest risk of developing early Alzheimer’s as early as possible,” cited study author Bradford Dickerson, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

Another finding of the study was that 60% of the people falling into the high risk group appeared to possess abnormal proportion of proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is another hallmark of Alzheimer’s. This percentage was 36 among the average risk set and 19 amidst the lower risk group. The team has plans of expanding the study by close observation of MRI scans hereafter.

The study is published in the journal, Neurology.