New York Times: For the first time, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tools have been used to study the progression of Parkinson’s disease in living patients, writes James Gorman for the New York Times. The disease kills brain cells and causes the affected parts of the brain to shrink. Until now, the affected areas were buried so deep that they could only be studied in patients who had died. Now, Suzanne Corkin at MIT and colleagues, whose paper appears in the Archives of Neurology, have developed a method using four different varieties of MRI to get four different images, which they then combine into a single image. From examining those images, the researchers determined that it’s the substantia nigra, an area of the brain involved in movement, that shows the first signs of damage. As the disease progresses, it begins to affect the basal forebrain, which is involved in memory and attention. Symptoms can vary widely, however, among Parkinson’s patients. The new technique is just one step along the way to understanding and treating the disease.