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Oxford University researchers have found a network of brain regions that appears to be more vulnerable to unhealthy ageing – such as Alzheimer's disease – and also seems susceptible to disorders that emerge in young people, such as schizophrenia.

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The team showed that, in healthy people, these parts of the brain are the last to develop and the first to show signs of neurodegeneration.

The research, the largest study of its kind, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was led by Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded researcher Dr Gwenaëlle Douaud, at Oxford University’s Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB).

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