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Neuroimaging studies illustrate the commonalities between ageing and brain diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number1700221
Early online date8 Jun 2018
Accepted/In press2 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print8 Jun 2018
PublishedJul 2018


King's Authors


The lack of specificity in neuroimaging studies of neurological and psychiatric diseases suggests that these different diseases have more in common than is generally considered. Potentially, features that are secondary effects of different pathological processes may share common neurobiological underpinnings. Intriguingly, many of these mechanisms are also observed in studies of normal (i.e., non-pathological) brain ageing. Different brain diseases may be causing premature or accelerated ageing to the brain, an idea that is supported by a line of ‘brain ageing’ research that combines neuroimaging data with machine learning analysis. In reviewing this field, I conclude that such observations could have important implications, suggesting that we should shift experimental paradigm: away from characterising the average case-control brain differences resulting from a disease towards methods that place individuals in their age-appropriate context. This would also lead naturally to clinical applications, whereby neuroimaging could contribute to a personalised-medicine approach to improve brain health.

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