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  C. Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Before It Starts

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new technique for detecting Alzheimer’s Disease before it strikes, is being studied by UCLA researcher Susan Bookheimer. The new process is called functional magnetic resonance imaging, or functional MRI.

Bookheimer: It’s similar to what we do in cardiology, where you have someone run on a treadmill and then their heart abnormalities show up whereas if they were just sitting calmly, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Narrator: Instead, patients who carry a recently discovered gene linked to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease perform cognitive stress tests while inside the MRI scanner.

Bookheimer: The brains of the patients are working harder than patients who will not develop the disease. So, as the neurons may be getting sickly, as a few of them may be dying off, the neurons that are left, have to work oh so much harder in order to make up for that loss.

Narrator: While there is currently no treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, Bookheimer says the greatest hope lies in early detection and new drug treatment. For Science Today, I’m Larissa Branin.