Young researcher: on brain ageing

06:25, 01 June, 2015
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Nauris Zdanovskis is a sixth year student of the study programme “Medicine” at RSU. In cooperation with the Department of Radiology of RSU Faculty of Medicine, he has carried out a research titled “Intravital Volume of Hippocampal Structures of the Brain and MR Volumetric Changes in Brain Ageing” (scientific supervisor: Prof. Gaida Krūmiņa, head of RSU Department of Radiology; advisor: Dr. psych. Jeļena Harlamova, neuropsychologist).

The research was presented at the final of "ResearchSlam" competition for Master’s and doctoral students on 15 May and Mr Nauris Zdanovskis took 4th place. The paper was also defended at RSU Department of Radiology.

nauris zdanovskis02-lead“For the first time I came across neuroscience as a separate discipline at the European Congress of Radiology in 2013. Since then I've been keeping myself updated about current findings and researches in neuroscience. Therefore, I had no second thoughts in choosing the field for my research. In future I would like to be engaged in the field of radiology, therefore I approached Prof. Gaida Krūmiņa, head of RSU Department of Radiology, and we chose the topic for the research together,” says Nauris Zdanovskis (pictured).

The population is ageing. In 2014, world’s inhabitants aged 65 and above constituted 8% of total population, and according to forecasts, this proportion will reach 16 % in 2050 [Alzheimer’s disease international, 2014].

Alongside with the human body, the brain is also ageing. Clinical ageing signs of the brain ageing are cognitive disorders (memory, attention, cognition, reasoning, visual perception and/or apprehension disorders) and dementia (decline of memory, intellect, reasoning ability, social skills and emotional response resulting in inability to engage in daily activities). Alongside with ageing of population, the occurrence of cognitive disorders and dementia increases. Thus, up-to-date radiologic examination methods become an integral part of diagnostics of the above mentioned disorders, their observation and detection of pathologically physiological mechanisms. By using the opportunities offered by the up-to-date magnetic resonance equipment, the author analysed the volume of hippocampal structures of the brain and compared the indicators of hippocampal volume to the results of tests carried out by the neuropsychologist.

The results of the study give a characteristics of the volume of hippocampal structure (structure of the brain located in the lobe of the brain), differences between left and right brain, their relation to the age, character and intensity of cognitive disorders. On average indicators of the hippocampal volumes were by 11.86 % lower in patients with cognitive disorders. On average, the greatest reduction of the volume was detected in patients with Alzheimer’s dementia (24.19 %), whereas the smallest reduction of the volume was characteristic to the patients with mild cognitive disorders (8.16 %). Besides, the relation of hippocampal volume to short-term and long-term memory was observed.

Upon combining the changes of hippocampal volume with the indicators of other structures of the brain, as well as upon analysing the current researches on mutual relation of functional and structural combinations, perspectives for the development of examination protocols for specific and highly sensitive magnetic resonance appears. It will allow differentiating and diagnosing various types of cognitive disorders at early stages, thus factors that affect ageing of the brain could be corrected in time.

Study that is accomplished up to now can be seen as a small though useful contribution to the research of cognitive abilities of human brain with objective radiological methods.