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ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Brain atrophy. Sequence of combined MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) axial scans of a 70-year-old female patient with brain atrophy. The sequence shows the blood flow, and therefore metabolic activity, in the patient's brain, which displays significant atrophy in the cortex. Brain atrophy involves a loss of neurons and the connections between them. Some degree of cerebral shrinkage occurs naturally in elderly people, but severe atrophy is a feature of certain conditions including Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease formation of protein plaques in the brain causes atrophy which results in progressive cognitive and functional deterioration.
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