Brain Changes May Be Tied to Parkinson's Dementia

Study finds differences between patients with and without mental decline

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've spotted brain abnormalities that may be linked to dementia in people with Parkinson's disease.

Many Parkinson's patients develop dementia and many of those who aren't diagnosed with dementia have mild cognitive impairment (a state that can precede dementia), according to background information in study.

The study used MRI scans of the brains of 84 Parkinson's patients -- 61 with normal mental abilities, 12 with mild cognitive impairment, and 11 with dementia as well as 23 healthy people.

The scans showed that the Parkinson's patients with dementia appeared to have more brain atrophy in the hippocampal, temporal and parietal lobes of the brain. People with Parkinson's and dementia also tended to have decreased prefrontal cortex volume compared to Parkinson's patients without dementia.

Parkinson's patients with mild cognitive impairment had a pattern of brain atrophy that was similar to those with dementia.

The study, which only found associations and cannot prove cause and effect, is published in the December issue of the journal Archives of Neurology.

As awareness of Parkinson's link to dementia grows, insights that can help further research and aid in the care of these patients will become increasingly important, Dr. Daniel Weintraub, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues said in the study.

More information

We Move has more about Parkinson's disease.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, news release, Dec. 12, 2011

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