In Alzheimer’s, Personality and Cognitive Changes May Come Before Amyloid Plaques

When it comes to Alzheimer’s, what happens first: beta amyloid plaques, or the visible personality and cognitive changes common with the disease? Researchers have long believed that amyloid drives neurodegeneration in the brain. But it’s possible that subtle changes in a person’s thinking abilities may actually precede the development of beta-amyloid protein, providing more clues to the complexity of the disease, according to a new study.

In the study, people with “objectively-defined subtle cognitive difficulties,” or Obj-SCD, were shown to develop amyloid in the brain faster than people who were deemed cognitively normal. It’s possible that being able to identify these cognitive changes earlier on with neuropsychological measures could help doctors identify when someone will be developing amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s.

The study, published in Neurology, was conducted by researchers at the University of California (UC) San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

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