PSY350: Physiological Psychology
Professor Buthania Alaloom
June 3, 2011
As we age the risk of losing our memory increases as well as the ability to remain doing the things that we have been used to doing almost our entire adult lives. A small decline in certain abilities is expected, but for those with Alzheimer’s disease it is a little different. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, leading up to the loss of ability to carry out some of the simplest tasks. Alzheimer’s occurs in 10% of the population over the age of sixty-five years old and in 50% of people that are older than eighty-five years old (Carlson, 2011).
With Alzheimer’s disease damage to the brain can begin up to ten to twenty years before any problems are evident. Alzheimer’s leads to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the entire brain. Over time the brain begins to shrink. In Alzheimer’s patients the cortex shrivels up, which damages areas involved in thinking, planning and remembering (Brill, 2005). The shrinking is severe in the hippocampus, which is what plays a key role in forming new memories in the brain (Brill, 2005). As these areas shrink, ventricles, which are fluid filled spaces within the brain, grow larger. In studying the brain of Alzheimer’s patients they have also found that their tissue has fewer nerve cells and synapses. Plaque, abnormal clusters of protein, builds between nerve cells and dead and dying nerve cells contain tangles, which are twisted strands of another protein (Brill, 2005).
Alzheimer’s disease is a genetic disease. There are four different risk genes that scientists have identified, although, a risk gene does not guarantee that one will develop the disease. Then there is the deterministic gene, this gene will directly cause the disease, so if one has the deterministic gene, they are guaranteed to...