Alzheimer’s Disease - Physiological Psychology

1891 words 8 pages
Diana Beharry
PSY350: Physiological Psychology
Alzheimer’s Disease
Professor Candice Ward
March 20, 2011

Introduction In 1901, a fifty one year old woman named Frau Auguste D. was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. She had an unusual bunch of symptoms. While she had no history of prior psychiatric illness, her husband had noticed that Frau D. was becoming increasing paranoid, hallucinatory, agitated, disoriented, and having increasing difficulties with language functions and memory. In the hospital, Auguste D. was a patient of Alois Alzheimer, a German neurologist who had a particular interest in the microscopic analysis of brain disorders. He describes the clinical features of Auguste D. condition and
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No one knows what exactly what triggers the disease process in Alzheimer’s, but most experts would agree that genetics play a role. In fact, approximately 30 percent of all people with AD have a family of dementia. This strong family connection prompted scientist to look more closely at genetics as a cause of AD. In turn what they discovered was that people who have early-onset AD have mutations (unexpected changes in a single gene or in secretions of chromosomes) in one of the three genes, while those with late onset AD were likely to carry a variant of a gene called apolipoprotein E epsilon-4, or APOE-4. At the moment, diagnosing Alzheimer’s remains an imprecise science. Unlike many diseases which can be diagnosed by a marker in the blood or X-ray, Alzheimer’s cannot be fully confirmed until autopsy, when the disease telltale plaques and tangles can be seen on the brain. Instead specialist and doctors rely on a combination of patient history, various exams, laboratory test, and brain scans to determine whether someone has Alzheimer’s. The total of these diagnostic measures are about 90 percent accurate in diagnosing AD. (Unknown 2, 2011) The stages of Alzheimer’s match to the underlying nerve cell damage that is taking place in the brain. The destruction typically begins in the parts of the brain associated

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