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University of Pennsylvania researchers have used a new brain-imaging technique in a way that could improve the diagnosis and monitoring of Alzheimer's disease. Penn scientists used an MRI innovation, called "arterial spin labeling," to image blood flow in the brain and match patterns of flow with cognitive decline. In a study published last week in Neurology, experts read the new type of MRI and PET scans of Alzheimer's patients and healthy people. Both technologies enabled them to reliably identify the patients. MRI is preferable to PET for several reasons, said John A. Detre, MD, a professor of Neurology and Radiology who was senior author of the study. For one thing, MRI is more widely available. For another, PET requires a radioactive tracer. This makes PET about twice as expensive as MRI, and the radiation exposure, while low, means patients can't have repeated PET scans to track brain changes.