Research studies have established a direct relationship between those who have early dementia and low-density brain matter. Specifically, researchers noted a strong link between areas of the brain that control memory, attention, orientation, and executive function and the amount of density of the glial cells in the frontal cortex. In those with Alzheimer’s Disease, the hippocampus, specifically, is noted to undergo atrophy.
One recent study comparing the volume of grey matter in patients with Alzheimer’s to those with Lewy Body Dementia found that those with the latter had significantly less dense cortices. This study focused on a region of the temporal lobe called the entorhinal cortex. People with Alzheimer’s typically demonstrate a gradual decline in this portion of the brain with most of the loss occurring in front of the eyes. Aside from the fact that the memory and judgment functions are directly affected, this is also the region of the brain that coordinates movement, all of the muscles of the body, and consciousness.
The question as to how gray matter is affected by dementia is also important for professionals who care for patients with Alzheimer’s. For example, how can we tell if memory loss and or disruptions to attention and coordination will occur? Or, how do we know if the patient will engage in repetitive behaviors? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, then you know that there are limited treatments for the condition. Medications that act as an anti-oxidant are usually the first course of treatment along with using drugs to lower the plaque levels in the brain and possibly removing the plaque with a procedure known as stereological curettage. However, these medications only address how gray matter is affected by dementia and do nothing to address the cause of the disease. This is why some researchers are developing experimental treatments such as gene therapy or optogenetics that aim to manipulate genes associated with the disease.
Other questions about how gray matter is affected by dementia revolve around how it relates to behavior. Is it possible to use brain scans as a way of tracking patients’ brains as they engage in certain behaviors? If so, what type of information do those scans reveal? Can the behaviors be used to design new therapies or treatments? As you can see, answering these questions is very important for researchers.
One of the mysteries of how gray matter is affected by dementia revolves around understanding how it relates to memory. It has been known for years that gray matter is related to memory and cognitive function. Grey matter also makes up a large part of the brain and seems to play a significant role in brain plasticity; the ability of the brain to change as a result of experience and environment. Scientists have developed ways to measure and test the levels of grey matter in patients with Alzheimer’s and found that the reduction of gray matter was related to poor memory performance. The implication is that more of the gray matter in these patients is responsible for their poor memory function.
How gray matter is affected by dementia is still a mystery and one that scientists are learning more about every day. With the advent of new technologies that allow us to look deep inside the brain, scientists have an easier time determining how gray matter affects a person’s ability to process information. It may be worth looking at the use of an MRI in conjunction with neuropsychologists as a way of learning more about how to treat patients who have been diagnosed with dementia. This technology has already shown promise in helping to reduce or eliminate the frustrating behaviors that characterize people who suffer from this condition.
Understanding how gray matter is affected by dementia is crucial to developing new ways of treating and even preventing this condition. The knowledge that the human brain is plastic and can change as a result of environmental factors, diet, and mental activity all play a role in helping patients deal with their condition. It will be some time before we truly understand how to fix the problem, but thanks to advances in medical science, there’s every reason to be optimistic. In the meantime, dementia patients who want to lead a normal life can take comfort in knowing that help is on the way.