Cognitive problems are a common issue that comes with advancing age. The elderly are the most likely to succumb to dementia, usually via Alzheimer’s Disease. Once dementia has set in, patients will face steadily worsening deficiencies in their ability to think and learn, to communicate with others, and even to maintain their regular daily life routines.

Research is ongoing into both dementia and Alzheimer’s, focusing on both animals and humans as doctors struggle to come up with treatments that might lead to a cure. One recent study has turned up a promising lead that doctors hope will do just that. A study that focused on mice found Alzheimer’s occurred at the same time as an uptick in brain nerve cell activity. Similar findings were confirmed in human patients.

Nerve cells communicate using chemical triggers to signal to each other. The increased nerve activity, neural hyperactivity, researchers found is caused by a change in how neurotransmitters are released by neurons. Neurons have a gap that separates them, called the synaptic cleft. While intra-neuron communication is conducted electrically, inter-neuro signals are carried chemically. The new findings show that dementia patients are experiencing a change in how the neurons process these chemical signals, making them less likely to actually receive the signals. This causes the neural hyperactivity; as the cells flood the synaptic gap with signals hoping one will get through.

Key Points:

  • 1Your brain uses both electric signals and chemical signals to function.
  • 2Those with Alzheimer’s seem to show a calcium chemical malfunction.
  • 3Suppressing cell hyperactivity could lead to normal brain function.

Alzheimer’s occurs sporadically in humans, the greatest risk factor being age.


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