Alzheimer's Disease Essay

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Alzheimer's Disease On the first day of class, it was proposed that "Brain=Behavior," implying that not only all actions and emotions can be explained by neuronal activity, but also the very sense of self which is so important to many of us. This latter implication was met with considerable resistance. Surely there must be more to an individual's personality and Self than a bunch of patterns of activity across neurons. Through the research I have done for this paper, I have discovered that disorders such as Alzheimer's disease add a new twist to the debate surrounding the origin of the Self. My purpose here is to provide an overview of Alzheimer's disease, including its neurobiological basis, the differences between early and late…show more content…
The disease functions by causing neurons to degenerate and lose their synapses with other nerves, thus cutting down severely on the intercellular communication which lies at the heart of all behavior. (1). Degeneration is characterized by clumps of beta amyloid (a protein fragment derived from amyloid precursor protein, or APP) called neuritic plaques which form outside and around neurons, as well as by the twisting and 'tangling' of a neuron's microtubules, a phenomenon referred to as neurofibrillary tangles (1, 2). These tangles specifically involve a protein known as tau, which usually forms the crosspieces or rungs of the parallel-running tracks of microtubules. In Alzheimer's patients, however, these crosspieces twist into helical shapes, thus breaking down the neuron's inner transportation system. The precise functions of beta amyloid and tau are not yet known; however, various studies suggest that beta amyloid may be involved in altering the concentrations of various chemicals both inside and outside of neurons, either by creating extra channels in the neuronal membrane or by changing already existing channels (see 1 for more details). (1) Research targeting the cause, or possibly, causes of Alzheimer's disease has a number of areas of focus, including several neurotransmitters, various postsynaptic events, genetic factors, cell metabolism, and possible environmental contributors

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