Alzheimer Disease Essay

922 words - 4 pages

The documentation of a severe form of dementia by Alois Alzheimer in 1907 began a massive investigation of the cause of this disorder. Some of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease consist of memory loss, impaired language ability, impaired judgement, and learning (M. Wong, et al. , 1997). Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is mainly a disease of the cerebral cortex. Alzheimer's is marked structurally by the senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and severe loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex. Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disorder ( Hof, Vogt, Bouras, and Morrison 1997). Recent attention has been focused on visual dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease (K. U. Loffler, D. P. ...view middle of the document...

This implies that regions controlling the low spacial frequency processing in the primary visual cortex would be affected more than those for high frequency processing (M. Wong-Riley, et al. , 1997). The neuropathologic examination of the brains with visual impairment in the Hof et al. (1997) study revealed cortical atrophy dominating on the posterior parietal cortex and occipital lobe(Hof et al.). A study by Beta-amyloid is considered an important factor in AD and was shown to be the major cause in senile plaques.

Acetylcholine

A number of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, including acetylcholine (ACh), somatostatin and glutamate have been found to be deficient in Alzheimer's disease (AD). A degree of ACh activity is necessary in visual information processing, higher functions, memory, learning and other cognitive processes (L. Nobili, & W. G. Sannita 1997). Recent studies have focused on possible defects in energy metabolism in AD. The major source of energy supply for neurons is ATP, which is generated mainly from oxidative metabolism in the mitochondria (Wong-Riley, et. al. , 1997).

A major decline in cholinergic markers is the main feature in Alzheimer's Disease. Cholinergic agonists and antagonists have been used as test conditions in investigating the role of ACh in visual information processing. The brain ACh systems depend on experience and sensory input in early development. If there is any visual deprivation during this critical time, ACh cannot properly perform its function. ACh also increases the firing rate for ON- and OFF-center ganglion cells, requiring differential sensitivity. In the visual cortex and the hippocampus, ACh is a long lasting excitatory agent, which monitors the level of temporal patterns of neural activity. Somatosensory cortex studies indicate that ACh enhances responsiveness by lowering the threshold to...

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