Sunday Mail - Body and Soul

IS IT FORGETFULN­ESS, OR ARE YOU HEADING TOWARDS ALZHEIMER’S?

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HOW DOES ALZHEIMER’S OCCUR?

We don’t know everything yet, but most scientists agree that the disease begins when too much of a protein called amyloid beta has built up in our synapses in the hippocampu­s of our brain. If too much of it is there, it forms plaques, sticks to itself and gunks up the synapses. Once it reaches a tipping point, it then triggers a molecular cascade that becomes a war that ends up in the inflammati­on and death of those neurons.

FORGETFULN­ESS VS. ALZHEIMER’S

Typically we experience “tip of the tongue” moments for proper nouns – a person’s name, a city, a movie title – and this may happen a handful of times a week. If it’s Alzheimer’s, it’s many times per day, and with common words, such as “What’s the thing you write with? What’s the thing I use to drink liquid?” But things like “I walk into a room and don’t know why I went in there” or “I went to the grocery store to get bread and came home without bread” – everybody’s afraid that these lapses in memory mean that they’re going to get Alzheimer’s, or that they’re already in the early stages. No. That’s just part of being human. That’s normal.

Lisa Genova, a neuroscien­tist and the author of Still Alice (which became an award-winning film starring Julianne Moore), breaks down the difference­s and shares what you can do to keep your memory in fighting form

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