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Boys Town Publishes Groundbreaking Brain Mapping for Age 55+

Boys Town, NEB. – Brain atlases, tools that map various areas and centers of the brain, have been around for decades, but until now, most researchers have only used young adult subjects (ages 18 to 35) to create these brain maps. This left a gap in the research arena when it came to the study of age- related brain changes and diseases, as no baseline data existed for this older population (which represents 15 percent of the United States and continues to show significant growth year after year).

That is what makes the Atlas55+ brain atlas, mapped by the Boys Town Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition Lab and its affiliates, so important. Now scientists researching brain and cognition changes in later adulthood have a reliable atlas of the brain networks, created using functional MRIs of healthy individuals ages 55 to 95. The full study is located at article/doi/10.1093/cercor/bhaa321/5981728.

“By providing the scientific community the first age-adapted brain atlas for late adulthood, this work has the potential to reveal how dysfunction of the brain networks contributes to neurodegenerative conditions like dementia,” reported Gaelle Doucet, Ph.D., Director of the Brain Architecture, Imaging and Cognition Lab at Boys Town National Research Hospital®.

Atlas55+ identified five major networks in the adult brain, three of which showed significant changes in integrity in older adults, as compared to younger adults. The end goal is that the atlas can be used as a reference for any population above the age of 55 and that it will aid in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease by providing a comparative baseline for what a healthy aging brain networks look like.

The Atlas55+ research study was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institute of Health. The study was published in Cerebral Cortex, by Oxford Academic Journals.

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Boys Town National Research Hospital is an international leader in research on childhood deafness, vision and communication disorders. For 40 years, Boys Town Hospital has been dedicated to providing leading edge clinical care, pioneering translational research and improving the lives of children and their families through applied technology and educational outreach programs.

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