The researchers used MRI scans and a computational formula to measure the volume of a part of the brain and found that each year, a region of the brain shrank considerably more in people who developed memory problems compared with people who didn't.
The study, published in the journal Radiology, found the normal healthy brain undergoes a predictable shrinkage that can be used to help recognize Alzheimer's several years before clinical symptoms emerge.
Currently, Alzheimer's can be diagnosed definitively by an autopsy after a person has died.
The study involved 45 people over a six-year period and the NYU researchers said future studies need to ascertain whether the technique would be as accurate in a larger pool of subjects.
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