The Changing Mind of Alzheimer's Disease

Topics: Brain, Neuron, Human brain Pages: 4 (1432 words) Published: August 26, 2010
The Changing Mind of Alzheimer’s Disease
Christina Fidler
Com150
March 18, 2010
Jennifer Anderson

The Changing Mind of Alzheimer’s Disease
Imagine living to be 80. The experiences, knowledge, and emotion an 80-year-old brain must hold are inconceivable. As a person ages there is a normal progression of symptoms such as dementia, including memory loss. How does one know when memory loss is more significant than normal aging? When should one become concerned of a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease? An official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is given when an autopsy confirming cognitive, personality, and behavioral changes caused by plaque buildup in the neurons of the human brain. At present more than five million Americans are affected by AD (Alzheimer’s Association, 2010). According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2010) the current report states that African Americans and Hispanics are at greater risk of developing AD. There seems to be no apparent genetic reason for the increased risk of these specific ethnic groups. According to the interactive web article Inside the Brain: An Interactive Tour “the adult human brain contains 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells, that branch out to 100 trillion points” (Alzheimer’s Association, 2010). The neurons and their branched points, which resemble a root bulb of a tree, are the main focus of the plaque buildup in and around the neurons and their parts. The plaque buildup is the cause of a person’s loss of cognitive function. Neurons connect with one another at synapses, where electrical charges cause the release of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters travel from one synapses to another when a person is thinking, learning, or remembering. The plaque that inhibits the neurons from properly functioning can be compared to turning off a circuit breaker to an electrical outlet. A lamp can still be plugged into the outlet but will not function without electrical current provided by the circuit....


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