The figures below show how a healthy brain appears, and how one appears in the later stages of degeneration. Note the extensive spaces in the infoldings (fissures and sulci) of the brain. This reflects the loss of brain tissue caused by dementia.
|Normally Aged Brain||Brain with AD|
In the course of aging, the brain is affected by a variety of insults often leading to dementia. One of the major goals of research in the future is the development of rational strategies for promoting successful aging and preventing decline due to dementia. At a cellular level several changes occur in the course of AD
Thus, in order to stop the loss of function and slow the progression of dementia, it is important to discover how to prevent degeneration and the accumulation of plaques and tangles. It is also necessary to stimulate healthy neurons to regenerate their lost processes (a thin branch like structure that comes out of the cell body in order to communicate with other neurons) and restore their synaptic connections. The two neurons shown below illustrate the differences between a healthy neuron (left panel) and one in an AD brain that has lost many of its processes and connections (right panel).
|Healthy Neuron||AD Neuron|