New research finds brain scan can identify early Alzheimer's disease

Researchers in New Mexico and Croatia have tested a non-invasive brain scanning technique known as magnetoencephalography, or MEG, as an early biomarker of Alzheimer's disease.

The results of the study are published today in the journal of Human Brain Mapping.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:  “Alzheimer’s disease can start causing changes in the brain over a decade before people experience dementia symptoms, like confusion or memory problems. Researchers around the world are hunting for accurate ways to identify people in these beginning stages, as catching it early could offer a vital opportunity to treat the underlying disease and delay or even totally prevent the onset of dementia.

“This study suggests that a non-invasive technique – called magnetoencephalography or MEG – used to measure brain activity in response to sounds could offer a good way to identify people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it’s far too early to draw any firm conclusions. The small number of participants, narrow selection criteria and lack of long-term data mean we can’t yet say how accurate this technique would be at distinguishing between people with very early Alzheimer’s and other causes of memory problems or dementia.”

Watch our video on what it is like to have a MEG scan: