How does Alzheimer's work?

Judith London, MD
Although Alzheimer's affects the hippocampus of the brain where new memories are formed and the process of figuring out how to do things occurs, other parts of the brain are unaffected for a long time. That is why interacting with someone who has the disease is still possible. By focusing on what remains, not on what is gone, connecting and communicating continues.

Alzheimer's disease, like other dementias, causes the brain to degenerate. As nerve cells are destroyed, the connections between them are also reduced. Alzheimer's strikes first in the hippocampus, where recent memories are stored, and progresses through the brain until it affects judgment, speech patterns and ultimately, all forms of memory.

Alzheimer's is distinguished by the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.

Doctors do not know if the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are the cause or byproducts of Alzheimer'ss disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.