Researchers Examine Why Alzheimer's Targets Certain Parts Of The Brain

First Posted: Jan 21, 2016 11:53 PM EST

Previous studies show that Alzheimer's disease (AD) targets large networks in the brain that contribute to memories. However, researchers are still uncertain how this relates to misfolded proteins seen by pathologists at autopsy.

During a recent studt study, researchers examined 128 participants in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative--looking into activity of the default mode network of DMN (a brain system known for being active when we perform tasks that involve memory when invoking mental constructs) and relating activity to measures of Alzheimer's proteins.

"We found that this load-shifting process itself may be a major culprit for the development of the Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Jones, the study's lead investigator and author, in a news release. "It is not unlike a cascading failure of a power grid. When a hub goes down, other areas of the network are forced to compensate. If the burden shift is too high, it blows off the circuits, and the power is down. This type of failure in our large brain networks may be responsible for the development of the Alzheimer's disease."

"This would be akin to cardiologists encouraging the lowering of blood pressure decades before plaques ever develop in the arteries in the heart," Dr. Jones says.

The study is published in the journal Brain.

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