Alzheimer’s Disease, A Cerebral Change in The Human Brain

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Alzheimer’s disease leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain, affecting a person’s memory, behavior and personality. Over time, the brain shrinks dramatically, affecting nearly all functions.

A comparison between a healthy brain and Alzheimer's Disease brain.A comparison between a healthy brain and Alzheimer’s Disease brain.

Although researchers don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, they do understand what happens to the brain as it progresses. The disease got its name from the physician who first described it in 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychologist and neuropathologist. He discovered the existence of ‘plaques’, or tiny dense deposits scattered throughout the brain and ‘tangles’ which interfere with vital brain processes and eventually choke off living cells. He also noted that when brain cells degenerate and die, the brain markedly shrinks in areas.

As the disease progresses and affects different parts of the brain, abilities become impaired and patients experience behavioral changes. Some of the most common symptoms include loss of memory, changes in mood and behavior, and difficulty performing day-to-day tasks. As the disease progresses, thinking and memory become seriously impaired and eventually it becomes impossible for a person with Alzheimer’s to remain independent. Years ago brain shrinkage and other changes could only be detected on autopsy, but today it is possible to follow some of these changes using MRI technology.

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