Neuroscience

Alzheimer's clue from spatial test

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
526,
Page:
612
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/526612b
Published online

Young adults who are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease show abnormal function in a part of the brain involved in spatial navigation.

Nikolai Axmacher at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany and his colleagues used neuroimaging to measure the functioning of the 'grid-cell' system in the entorhinal cortex as participants with or without the APOE-ε4 risk gene navigated a virtual arena.

The 38 high-risk individuals showed reduced grid-cell functioning compared with the 37 controls and tended to avoid the centre of the arena. Activity in the hippocampal region was higher when the grid-cell system was impaired, as if to compensate for the deficit. Reduced grid-cell functioning may prove useful as an early biomarker of Alzheimer's, the authors suggest.

Science 350, 430433 (2015)

Additional data