The slide from sound cognitive function to impaired cognitive function is a slow and gradual one. Illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are so hard to prevent because scientists don’t have the tools to notice slight changes early on, but new research suggests MRI scans may offer a helping hand.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, develops over time. It begins as mild cognitive impairment, which steadily worsens into general dementia, and eventually ends as full-blown illness. As imaging technologies advance, the blurry lines between these stages begin to come into focus, offering scientists a greater chance at catching, slowing, and perhaps even stopping illnesses altogether.
 

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