The invention provides a method for detecting or monitoring Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia using positron emission tomography (PET) or single-photon emission computed tomagraphy (SPECT) and radiolabeled, serotonin 5-HT.sub.1A receptor-specific tracers (such as [F-18]MPPF, [F-18]FCWAY, [C-11]WAY-100635, and other radiolabeled compounds having agonistic or antagonistic effect on serotonin receptors), for detection or monitoring of pathological changes (i.e., neuronal cell loss) associated with dementia.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
 This invention was made with Government support, Grant No. DE-FC03-02ER63420, awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.