Forgetfulness or emerging dementia? That question could now be answered in an early stage. Using modern imaging techniques scientists from Leipzig’s Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Leipzig University have found a brain region which signals Alzheimer´s. This could facilitate improved predictions of the progress of dementia. Further studies are on the way.
Picture: A and B show the correlation of cognitive impairment in early dementia with sugar metabolism in the inferior frontal junction (IFJ; red). In healthy subjects, the control functions are located in the same region (C). Personality changes such as those that may occur in dementia are associated with other regions of the brain (D). © MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
With the help of lucid dreamers, who are able to influence the content of their dreams, now researchers found out that dreams activate the brain in a similar way to real actions. Therefore the dreamers were asked to voluntarily “dream” that they were repeatedly clenching first their right fist and then their left one for ten seconds while sleeping in a magnetic resonance scanner. The brain activity measured was then compared to the brain activity that arises when the hand is moved while the persons were awake.
Picture: Activity in the motor cortex during the movement of the hands while awake (left) and during a dreamed movement (right). Blue areas indicate the activity during a movement of the right hand, which is clearly demonstrated in the left brain hemisphere, while red regions indicate the corresponding left-hand movements in the opposite brain hemisphere. © MPI of Psychiatry