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Alzheimer’s disease and Korsakoff’s syndrome | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy


Although everybody forgets,
excessive forgetting can be a sign of a
more serious problem. Dementia is the
term for a decline in memory and other
cognitive functions that gets to the point of
interfering with daily life. Dementia results
from excessive damage to brain tissue, which can
be from multiple strokes or other causes. The most common form of dementia
is Alzheimer’s disease, or AD. Now, the exact cause
of AD is still unknown, but we do know that
in people with AD, their neurons die off over time. As people with AD lose
their neurons and synapses, their cerebral cortex
shrinks in size. The earliest symptoms of AD
are memory loss, specifically the inability to encode or
retrieve recent memories. Subsequent problems
include difficulty with attention, planning,
semantic memory, and abstract thinking. As the disease progresses, more
severe language difficulties may appear, as well as
greater memory loss, such as the inability to
recognize close family and friends. As the disease continues
to progress, people with AD may experience emotional
instability and loss of control over their bodily functions. While there are many theories
as to the exact cause of the disease, a definitive
answer is still unknown, and the disease is terminal. We do know that people
with AD experience a buildup of proteins called
amyloid plaques in the brain, but how or why those
plaques start to build up and exactly what role they
play in the disease is still uncertain. Another neurological
disorder affecting memory is Korsakoff’s
syndrome, which is caused by a lack of vitamin
B1, or thiamine, in the brain. This disorder is strongly
linked to severe malnutrition, eating disorders, or
especially alcoholism, because these groups
often don’t ingest or are unable to process all the
nutrients their bodies need, including thiamine. Thiamine is important
because it’s responsible for
converting carbohydrates into the glucose your
cells need for energy, and it’s especially important
for the normal functioning of your neurons. At first, a person developing
Korsakoff’s syndrome might have damage to
certain parts of the brain, resulting in poor balance,
abnormal eye movements, mild confusion,
and/or memory loss. At this stage, it’s
actually called Wernicke’s
encephalopathy, which is the precursor to
Korsakoff’s syndrome. If Wernicke’s encephalopathy
is diagnosed in time, then it’s possible to
reverse the damage, or at least prevent more of it. If untreated,
however, the disease will progress into full-blown
Korsakoff’s syndrome. The main symptom of Korsakoff’s
syndrome is severe memory loss, and this symptom is often
accompanied by confabulation, which is when the
patient makes up stories, sometimes to fill in the
gaps in his or her memory. Unlike AD, Korsakoff’s syndrome
is not necessarily progressive. If diagnosed and treated,
people can get better. People are often treated
with thiamine injections or other medication,
and they have to stay on a healthy diet
and abstain from alcohol. And some people may also
need to re-learn some things. The effectiveness
of this treatment really depends on how early
the disease is diagnosed and how well the patient follows
the treatment guidelines.

3 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s disease and Korsakoff’s syndrome | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. Very good presentation
    I suggest for the futur presentation the background of the screen should be in white so we can print out the any slide with screenshot

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