UK scientists have been able to pinpoint the area of the brain that has a weak spot for dementia and schizophrenia.
The team led by Dr Gwenaëlle Douaud of Oxford University focused on a network of nerve cells that coordinate information from different senses.
They looked at how the brain changed over the years and found a common pattern. The images revealed that the first parts of the brain to show age-related deterioration were the ones that were the last to develop.
The scientists found that the same areas of the brain were affected when they looked at scans of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and those that suffered from schizophrenia.
The area in question does not develop until late adolescence or early adulthood. It is linked with long-term memory and intellectual capacity – the areas that become impaired in those with dementia.
The experts, who reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal , say “much more research is needed into how to bring these exciting findings to the clinic”.
Professor Hugh Perry, chairman of the Medical Research Council's Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, which funded the research, said: “The more we can find out about these very difficult disorders, the closer we will come to helping sufferers and their families.”
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that affects approximately 24 million people worldwide. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia affecting 62 percent of those diagnosed.