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Largest Brain Study of 62,454 Scans Identifies Drivers of Brain Aging


Schizophrenia, cannabis use, and alcohol abuse are just several
disorders that are related to accelerated brain aging

In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists from Amen
(Costa Mesa, CA), Google, John's Hopkins University,
University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California,
San Francisco evaluated 62,454 brain SPECT (single photon emission
computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 individuals from 9 months
old to 105 years of age to investigate factors that accelerate brain
aging. SPECT tomography) evaluates regional cerebral blood flow in the
brain that is reduced in various disorders.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Drivers of Brain Aging (Graphic: Business Wire)

Drivers of Brain Aging (Graphic: Business Wire)

Lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics,
commented, "Based on one of the largest brain imaging studies ever done,
we can now track common disorders and behaviors that prematurely age the
brain. Better treatment of these disorders can slow or even halt the
process of brain aging. The cannabis abuse finding was especially
important, as our culture is starting to see marijuana as an innocuous
substance. This study should give us pause about it."

The current study used brain SPECT imaging to determine aging
trajectories in the brain and which common brain disorders predict
abnormally accelerated aging. It examined these functional neuroimaging
scans from a large multi-site psychiatric clinic from patients who had
many different psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder,
schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers studied 128 brain regions to predict the chronological age
of the patient. Older age predicted from the scan compared to the actual
chronological age was interpreted as accelerated aging. The study found
that a number of brain disorders and behaviors predicted accelerated
aging, especially schizophrenia, which showed an average of 4 years of
premature aging, cannabis abuse (2.8 years of accelerated aging),
bipolar disorder (1.6 years accelerated aging), ADHD (1.4 years
accelerated aging) and alcohol abuse (0.6 years accelerated aging).
Interestingly, the researchers did not observe accelerated aging in
depression and aging, which they hypothesize may be due to different
types of brain patterns for these disorders.

Commenting on the study, George Perry, PhD, Chief Scientist at the Brain
Health Consortium from the University of Texas at San Antonio, said,
"This is one of the first population-based imaging studies, and these
large studies are essential to answer how to maintain brain structure
and function during aging. The effect of modifiable and non-modifiable
factors of brain aging will further guide advice to maintain cognitive

Co-investigator Sachit Egan, Google Inc. (Mountain View, CA), said,
"This paper represents an important step forward in our understanding of
how the brain operates throughout the lifespan. The results indicate
that we can predict an individual's age based on patterns of cerebral
blood flow. Additionally, groundwork has been laid to further explore
how common psychiatric disorders can influence healthy patterns of
cerebral blood flow."

View video at


"Patterns of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow as a Function of Age
Throughout the Lifespan," by Daniel G. Amen, Sachit Egan, Somayeh
Meysami, Cyrus A. Raji and Noble George (DOI 10.3233/JAD-180598). It is
published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published by IOS

Full text of the study is available to credentialed reporters upon
request. Contact Nancy Mamann Amen Clinics, +1 (310) 871- 8877;
or Diana Murray, IOS Press, at +1 (718) 640-5678;
A video featuring the study is posted at

Daniel G. Amen, MD, is a double-board certified psychiatrist and founder
of Amen
in Costa Mesa Encino, Walnut Creek, CA, Bellevue, WA,
Reston, VA (DC area), Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, and New York, NY. He is
the author of Feel Better Fast (to be released 11/2018) and
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life


The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (
is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in
understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics,
behavior, treatment and psychology of Alzheimer's disease. The journal
publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews,
and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in
the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease
and clinical trial outcomes. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
has an Impact Factor of 3.476 according to the 2017 Journal Citation
(Clarivate Analytics, 2018).


, Inc. was established in 1989 by Daniel G. Amen, MD, who is
a physician, psychiatrist, professor and ten-time New York Times
bestselling author. Amen Clinics has the world's largest database of
functional brain scans relating to behavior, totaling over 145,000 scans
on patients from 120 countries.


is headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the
USA, Germany, India, and China and serves the information needs of
scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now publishes
over 100 international journals and about 75 book titles each year on
subjects ranging from computer sciences and mathematics to medicine and
the natural sciences.

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