Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans could be used to detect early and subtle markers of cognitive impairment in people with Parkinson’s, which may help predict patients’ prognoses and disease progression, a recent study suggests.
Such early detection also allows people with the neurodegenerative disease to start appropriate care strategies earlier, the researchers say.
The results of the study, “Texture features of magnetic resonance images: A marker of slight cognitive deficits in Parkinson’s disease,” were published in the journal Movement Disorders.
The team investigated if MRI texture analysis is sensitive enough to be an early marker of cognitive alterations, specifically of cognitive slowing, in Parkinson’s patients.
They analyzed brain MRI scans of 102 people with Parkinson’s from centers in Lille, France, and Maastricht, the Netherlands, who were involved in a previous study.
Based on tests of attention, memory, executive function, language, and visuospatial functions, three groups of patients were considered for the study. These groups were cognitively intact patients (PDCN); cognitively intact patients with slight cognitive slowing (PDCN-S); and patients with mild cognitive deficits, particularly in executive functioning (PD-EXE).
Six regions of the brain previously reported to suffer from atrophy (volume loss) in Parkinson’s patients with cognitive impairments were specifically chosen by the researchers for analysis. These regions were the thalamus, the hippocampus, the puramen, the pallidum, the caudate nucleus, and the amygdala.
These texture features were at three specific regions in the brain: the hippocampus, the thalamus, and the amygdala.