This image represents a cross-section of the brain as seen from the front. The cross-section on the left represents a brain from a normal individual and the one on the right represents a brain with Alzheimer’s disease (http://www.ahaf.org/alzdis/about/BrainAlzheimer.htm, 20/03/05).
The areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease are the hippocampus/ limbic system, amygdala and olfactory areas (http://www.alzheimersdisease.com/index.jsp, 20/03/05)In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, short-term memory begins to decline when the cells in the hippocampus, begin to degenerate due to a lack of blood flow, metabolism and essentially nutrients being supplied to the hippocampus. The ability to perform routine tasks also declines (http://www.
alzheimers-research.org.uk/site/Facts.asp, 20/03/05). Other symptoms are visuospatial and constructing disabilities, forgetfulness, confusion, deficits in intellectual and cognitive functioning as well as difficulty with judgment and abstract reasoning (http://www.alzheimers-research.org.uk/site/Facts.
asp, 20/03/05).As Alzheimer’s disease spreads through the cerebral cortex (the outer layer of the brain), judgment declines, and emotional outbursts may occur. Language too may become impaired (http://www.ahaf.org/alzdis/research/adresrch.html, 20/03/05).
Progression of the disease leads to the death of more nerve cells and subsequent behaviour changes, such as wandering and agitation. The ability to recognize faces and to communicate is completely lost in the final stages (http://www.alzheimers-research.
org.uk/site/Facts.asp, 20/03/05). Patients lose bowel and bladder control, and eventually need constant care.This stage of complete dependency may last for years before the patient dies.
(http://www.alzheimers-research.org.uk/site/Facts.asp, 20/03/05). The average length of time from diagnosis to death is 4 to 8 years, although it can take 20 years or more for the disease to run its course (http://www.
ahaf.org/alzdis/about/BrainAlzheimer.html, 20/03/05). Cures: There are no known cures but there are four drugs available that can alleviate some of the known symptoms: Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl and Ebixa (for more severe cases of Alzheimer’s).
There also has speculation about anti-inflammatory drugs but no solid proof to back it up (http://www.alzheimers.org/generalinfo.htm#whatisdem, 20/03/05).Multiple SclerosisMultiple Sclerosis, which affects young and middle – aged adults, is a disease characterized by slow, progressive disablement. It causes the myelin sheath of the neurons in the white matter of the brainstem, spinal cord, cerebellum and cerebrum to disintegrate (http://www.
mult-sclerosis.org/whatisms.html, 20/03/05). The motor system is the 1st area attacked by this degenerative disease. The axon of the neuron is ‘stripped’ bare and this allows for information to be scrambled allowing impulses to ‘jump’ from 1 neuron to another.This results in “mixed signals” being transmitted to parts of the body (http://www.mssociety.org.
uk/what_is_ms/index.html, 20/03/05). The disease may be produced by a person not being able, genetically, to withstand an environmental agent due to abnormalities of the immune system that have a viral effect on that person. Hereditary factors are also taken into account (http://www.mult-sclerosis.
org/whatisms.html, 20/03/05).Symptoms that occur are: motor weakness, impaired vision due to opic nerve inflammation, sexual disturbances, numbness, pain, bladder dysfunction, memory deficits, as well as impaired visiospatial ability (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What%20is%20MS.
asp, 20/03/05). It has also been noted the 30-70% of patients suffer cognitive dysfunction. Depression and euphoria are the primary psychiatric symptoms, which occur. Language and intellectual abilities are relatively preserved but mental slowing is present.Cures: Steroid treatments may shorten the duration and severity of attacks, but once again, there are no long-term cures for Multiple Sclerosis. Symptoms can be treated by anti-depressants, painkillers, muscle relaxants, Glatiramer Acetate and Interferon-Beta (both can modify disease activity) (http://www.mult-sclerosis.
org/whatisms.html, 20/03/05). Conclusion: Neurological diseases are a growing concern throughout the world, with the number of people being affected increasing all the time.Although much research is currently underway to improve the lives of those affected by neurological diseases, throughout this essay it is evident that very few long-term cures are actually exist and if they do many are unattainable or readily available to the average person. With this in mind, much research needs to be done in the fields of neuropsychology and neurology in order to rid those suffering from these devastating and sometimes even fatal diseases.
Reference ListGabuzda, D. “Nerve cell suicide in aids dementia”, http://www.med.harvard.edu/publications/On_The_Brain/Volume5/Number1/AIDS.
html, 20/03/05 Santrock, John W. 2001, Psychology 7th Edition, U.S.A, Von Hoffmann Press. “What are anxiety disorders” http://www.mentalhealth.org/publications/allpubs/ken98-0045/default.asp#, 20/03/05 “What is dementia”, http://www.alzheimers.org/generalinfo.htm#whatisdem, 20/03/05