The first human magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan was acquired almost 40 years ago. The scanner — hand-built by Dr. Raymond Damadian with the help of his two postdoctoral fellows — took nearly five hours to produce one snapshot of the human chest, and Dr. Damadian was eventually awarded the National Medal of Technology for his accomplishment.
Have you ever asked for a phone number only to forget it moments later? The only way to remember it is to rehearse the digits over and over in your head. This is an example of working memory, which is a type of short-term memory for storage and manipulation of information necessary for higher order cognition. Working memory is impaired in some diseases such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. Since working memory is used for daily tasks, memory impairment often is associated with a reduced quality of life. If scientists can understand how the brain circuitry creates working memory, scientists may be able to treat the cognitive symptoms of diseases that impair working memory.Continue reading
The human brain contains roughly eighty-six billion (~10^10) neurons, each of which forms approximately ten thousand (10^4) synaptic connections with other neurons. Therefore, on average, there are one hundred trillion (10^14) synapses in the brain! Maintaining the health of these synapses is essential for proper brain function and higher cognitive functions like learning, memory, and emotion. Dysfunction of synaptic function is thought to underlie many types of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and aging related dementia. Those affected with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have severe learning and memory impairments, impaired judgment, severe anxiety and other mood disruptions.Continue reading
Neurodegenerative disorders, like Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease, are devastating. As you can imagine, witnessing the slow and progressive loss of a loved one’s mental and emotional states is an extremely painful and heartbreaking experience. Currently, there are no cures for neurodegenerative diseases, and the drugs that are available only alleviate symptoms, without slowing the progression of the disease.Continue reading
Your brain is able to store massive amounts of memories throughout your lifetime. There are cases, however, in which this ability progressively degrades and eventually disappears, giving way to problems with thinking, reasoning, and remembering. When these symptoms occurs faster than normal aging, it is termed dementia. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of brain function loss, and its neuropathology are summarized here.Continue reading
Based on the recent statistics, one in eight individuals over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, and for every 68 seconds that pass, yet another individual in the United States develops the disease.Continue reading