Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 5 million Americans, is a brain disorder that over time destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and perform daily activities. The disease usually begins after age 60, with the risk going up with age. It is estimated that about half of the population 85 and older has Alzheimer’s; therefore, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Rarer forms of the disease can occur earlier in life. The brains of people with Alzheimer’s are characterized by having clumps, called amyloid plaques, and tangled fibers, called neurofibrillary tangles, but what causes them remains an active area of research. Genetics and aspects of aging may play a role in creating the brain changes that most likely cause the disease symptoms. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may experience changes in personality and behavior, including anxiety, suspiciousness, agitation, delusions and hallucinations. Disease course varies with each individual, but the average person lives 8 to 10 years after diagnosis. No cure currently exists for Alzheimer’s and drugs have variable effectiveness, but considerable research about the disease is leading to new approaches to drugs. Effective care and support has been shown to improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

 Larry R. Squire, Ph.D. - Brain & Behavior research expert on memory
Larry R. Squire, Ph.D.
November 18, 2014
In a new basic science discovery about the brain, 1998 NARSAD Distinguished Investigator Grantee Larry R. Squire, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of...
Deborah E. Barnes, PhD, MPH, Alzheimer's Disease and Depression Expert
Deborah Barnes, PhD, MPH
May 09, 2012
NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee, Deborah E. Barnes, Ph.D., MPH, Associate Professor, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), is the lead author of...
Eric R. Kandel, M.D.
Eric R. Kandel, M.D.
January 19, 2012
From The Quarterly, Winter 2012 Imagine that you are standing on a busy city street corner and you gather together the first 100 passersby who are precisely 70...
Deborah E. Barnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of California, San Francisco
Deborah E. Barnes, Ph.D., M.P.H.
January 19, 2012
From The Quarterly, Winter 2012 Cognitive abilities tend to decline with age. Although there is considerable variability in degree from one person to another,...
Amy F. T. Arnsten, Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine
Amy F. T. Arnsten, Ph.D.
August 26, 2011
From The Quarterly, Summer 2011 You don’t have to be a neuroscientist to know that certain of our mental faculties decline as we age. Memory is one instance or...


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