Alzheimer’s dementia is a debilitating disease that affects people in middle to old age. It is defined as deterioration that takes place in the brain due to general and normal aging. The levels on which Alzheimer’s may affect people can vary greatly.
In a recent study done by Nikolai Axmacher of Ruhr-Universität Bochum, it was discovered that there are certain symptoms that are present in young adults that indicate an increased risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. This increase was seen in patterns of activation in the brain correlated to spatial navigation.
The study involved using fMRI’s, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, in which brain activity could be observed unobtrusively. Axmacher and his team studied youth’s grid patterns in the brain who had an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, and patterns of those who didn’t. It was discovered that those who had a heightened risk showed less stable grid patterns.
Lukas Kunz, who conducted the experiment in Bonn, states, “The risk carriers showed a less stable grid pattern in the entorhinal cortex – many decades before they might develop Alzheimer’s dementia”.
Tests done did show increased brain activity in the memory system in high-risk youth, which is believed to be either a short-term compensation, or a long-term factor contributing to Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s dementia. There is only research that can be done to help identify early signs in hopes of helping slow, prevent, or stop onset. Drugs that are administered now are only given after much of the brain has deteriorated, at which point nothing can be reversed. That’s why the focus now needs to be on early detection and, if possible, prevention.
Research like this may help identify factors that play a role in Alzheimer’s dementia, and what we can do to prevent this terrible disease from taking over the lives of many.