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Alzheimer's Breaks Brain Networks' Coordination
Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:57 PM
Joined: 12/6/2011
Posts: 3326

From Alzheimer's Daily News:

(Source: ScienceBlog) - Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine have taken one of the first detailed looks into how Alzheimer's disease disrupts coordination among several of the brain's networks. The results include some of the earliest assessments of Alzheimer's effects on networks that are active when the brain is at rest.

"Until now, most research into Alzheimer's effects on brain networks has either focused on the networks that become active during a mental task, or the default mode network, the primary network that activates when a person is daydreaming or letting the mind wander," said Dr. Beau Ances "There are, however, a number of additional networks besides the default mode network that become active when the brain is idling and could tell us important things about Alzheimer's effects."


The scientists found that all of the networks they studied eventually became impaired during the initial stages of Alzheimer's. "Communications within and between networks are disrupted, but it doesn't happen all at once," Ances explained. "There's even one network that has a momentary surge of improved connections before it starts dropping again. That's the salience network, which helps you determine what in your environment you need to pay attention to."

The scientists explained that the ability to switch between active and quiet networks is significantly diminished in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. "One hypothesis is that as things go wrong in the processing of information in the default mode network, that mishandled data is passed on to other networks, where it creates additional problems," Ances said.


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