People with Parkinson’s disease have a six times greater risk of developing dementia than the general population. A new study points to a way of picking out those who are at risk of dementia.
The 20-month study involved 32 patients in the first stages of Parkinson's disease and 18 healthy controls. It found thinning in certain cortical areas (temporal, occipital, parietal and supplementary motor area) as well as subcortical atrophy (amygdala and nucleus accumbens) in the grey matter of those Parkinson’s sufferers with mild cognitive impairments. The rate of cortical thinning mirrored growth in cognitive problems. This pattern of brain degradation associated with the early presence of mild cognitive impairment might serve as a marker for the development of dementia. Parkinson's patients without mild cognitive impairment had only one lateral occipital and one fusiform cluster with increased rate of thinning compared to healthy individuals.
 Mild cognitive impairment is linked with faster rate of cortical thinning in patients with Parkinson’s disease longitudinally. Brain [Internet]. 2014 ;137(4):1120 - 1129. Available from: http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/137/4/1120