X-Message-Number: 16484
From: "veronica sullivan" <>
Subject: Alzheimer's and memory loss
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2001 08:17:02 +1000

Hi all,

In message 16459, Max More wrote

You say it is "certain" that Alzheimer's destroys memory. I'm suspicious of
the above claim because (a) people with Alzheimer's seem to recall things
and sometimes not, (b) It may be that the ability to retrieve memories is
damaged by Alzheimer's but perhaps the memories are still there and
retrieval abilities could be repaired.

The onset of Alzheimer's is generally slow and gradual. Problems with short
term memory are common early on in the course of the disease. As the disease
progresses problems in abstract thinking develop. The rate and severity of
intellectual decline varies with different people.

Alzheimer's is insidious, the disease gradually destroys a persons reason,
,judgement, and eventually the person loses their language abilities and is
unable to perform any basic task.The person becomes disorientated in time
and space and usually suffers marked personality changes.

It is only about the last 20 years that scientists and the medical
profession have been able to unravel the physiological changes that occur.
It is now known that Alzheimers begins in the enterhinal cortex and proceeds
to the hippocampus ( which is important in memory formation and storage).

The disease gradually spreads to other regions of the brain, particularly
the cerebral cortex,which is involved in functions such as language and
reasoning ability. Only on autopsy neuritic plaques are found and
neurofibrillary tangles.

As the disease progresses, neurones in the brain slowly die, as they die
lower levels of neurotransmitters (acetylcholine) are produced, creating
signalling problems to the brain. This nerve cell degeneration is
irreversable due to the degenerative changes and death of neurones. The good
news is that medical research is powering along and it is not unlikely that
a cure as such will be found in our own lifetime.

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