Dementia researchers will be able to tap into investment of £1.9 million for work on identifying the earliest brain changes linked with conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

Research teams from three countries have come together to form the TriBEKa Consortium, which will work on a brain imaging project that aims to shed new light on the first factors that determine risk of dementia.

Changes in the brain that lead to dementia can actually take place decades before symptoms appear, and experts believe that understanding these changes could lead to new ways to intervene before irreversible damage has been done.

The initiative brings together researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, the BarcelonaBeta Brain Research Centre in Spain and Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

Researchers will employ the brain scanning technique positron emission tomography (PET) to detect harmful build-up of chemicals associated with dementia, while brain structure will be measured with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

"Modelling and understanding early changes in Alzheimer's disease is key for understanding the role of the different risk factors and designing prevention trials. The TriBEKa Consortium will become a key source of information to give those answers,” said Professor José Luis Molinuevo, scientific director of the BarcelonaBeta Brain Research Centre.

Project data will be made available to the global science community using the data-sharing platform the Global Alzheimer's Association Interactive Network (GAAIN).

The funding boost comes from the US-based Alzheimer's Association and donation from an anonymous international charitable foundation.