A Journey Through the Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Brain Part 2

Michael Mullan presents the 2nd part of : A Journey Through the Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Brain

read part 1 here

6 Signaling in the cells 

Thoughts and memories travel through nerve cells as minute electrical charges. 
One nerve cell connects to another one at synapses. As the tiny electrical charge reaches the synapse, it can release a burst of chemicals, known as neurotransmitters. The function of neurotransmitters is to carry signals to the other cells across the synapse. Scientists have discovered dozens of different neurotransmitters. 
Alzheimer’s is responsible for disrupting how electrical charges can travel while it also disrupts neurotransmitter’s activity.

Nerve Cell



7. Signal coding

With billions of nerve cells and trillions of synapses the power of the brain is sourced from numbers. Your experiences form patterns in the type of signals which explain how we are defined at a cellular level as your brain codes your memories, skills, thoughts and your sense of self. 

The scan to the left is called a positron emission tomography (PET) this shows brain activity patterns that are linked to: 

Reading of words 
Hearing words 
Thoughts about words 
Speaking words 

The red areas mark high activity levels through to the other end of the rainbow scale where yellow and violet mark low activity. 
Your patterns change over the years as you have new experiences, meet different people and learn new things. Alzheimer’s changes patterns by disrupting nerve cells and the connections between them. 

8. How Alzheimer’s Affects the Brain 

Alzheimer’s causes the brain to shrink over time, killing nerve cells and leading to tissue loss. The effects are widespread. 

A normal disease free brain 
The brain with advanced Alzheimer’s 
A comparison of the two 

Alzheimers  Brain



9. Further changes in the brain 

This is another dramatic view of the massive effects on the brain of advanced Alzheimer’s. The image is a crosswise slice of the brain. 
On the Alzheimer’s side: 
The cortex is shriveled, affecting the thought, planning and memory areas. 
The hippocampus is especially smaller than other areas, this part of the cortex controls new memory formation. 
The spaces in the brain, called ventricles, grow bigger 

10. Beneath the Microscope 

When viewed through the microscope scientists are able to see the devastating effects of the disease:

Alzheimer’s brain tissue has much less nerve cells and also synapses than a normal brain 
Build up of protein fragments called plaques occurs between the nerve cells 
The dying and dead nerve cells have tangles twisted strands made of other proteins. 

Although scientists are not certain what leads to the death of cells and loss of tissue in a brain with Alzheimer’s, the tangles and plaques are the prime suspects. 


35 responses to “A Journey Through the Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Brain Part 2

  1. Very informative part 2. Alzheimer’s is so devastating and I did not know the effects were so widespread.

  2. Quite the informative article, nicely broken down for the layman to understand it. Looking forward to part 3.

  3. Very interesting and informative. This can only help people who suffer, as well as their loved ones, at least they can understand what’s happening.

  4. What a great article. I learned a lot about alzheimers.

  5. What a great article. I learned a lot about alzheimers.

  6. What a great article which gives an insight about this deadly disease.Thnks!!

  7. what an article!! which gives an insight about this deadly disease.Thanks!!

  8. what an article!! that gives an insight of this deadly disease.Thanks!!

  9. Sad but very informative!

  10. Alzheimers is a dangerous and deadly disease that makes you forget and not know where you are. I hope there will be good alternatives and cures in the future.

  11. This is a very interesting and well written article. I learned a great deal from it and I am sure it will help many people to better understand Alzheimer’s.


  13. We briefly went over Alzheimer’s in anatomy and physiology and it is such a scary thing to even think that that happens to people’s brains. Definitely respect the article and you informing everyone of this disease.

  14. Many people are aware of the devastating effects of alzheimers, however, not many know exactly what it does. Fascinating article.

  15. It is quite scary that Alzheimer”s disease can affect the brain and can also cause one’s behavior to change from time to time. Brain function changes as one ages, and it’s so often that we understand how it works.

  16. It is scary that Alzheimer’s disease can affect the brain and can also cause one’s behavior to change overtime. It is very good to know about how the brain works and what function it is to understand how it actually changes as one ages.

  17. Alzheimer’s is such a devastating diagnosis. It helps family especially to understand what is going on.

  18. Unfortunately I’ve experienced up close and personal with my grandfather Buddy…and it’s the hardest thing in the world for the one suffering and the loved ones.

  19. The more we learn what causes Alzheimer’s Disease, we can take preventative steps to decrease it.

  20. Very cool to see what I’ve learned in college put to use! Interesting article!

  21. Great article and good insights on this terrible sickness

  22. What a great article. I learned a lot about alzheimers.

  23. I mean you really learn something everyday! But are they trying to figure out something that could keep the two cells apart, like separating the dead cells from the live cells? or there could be something such as electrical that could help the brain survive. Just a guess.

  24. I didn’t know Alzheimer’s causes the brain to shrink. I knew it made you forget things. This has a lot of information about Alzheimer’s. My brother had it. I hope the doctors can find a cure for it sometime.

  25. Great article! Very informative! Everyone should inform themselves and create awareness on this horrible disease. Knowledge is key! This disease touches many people and families and we should learn all we can about it to work on cures! Great read.. I will definitely pass this on !

  26. Excellent and informative article. I have an family member who had suffered from the disease and I wasn’t able to understand what they were really going through. Thanks Michael!!!!

  27. I’m a psych major and have a family memory with early onset Alzheimer, so this article was a great read. It’s both scary and fascinating to see how this illness affects us, both emotionally and physically.

  28. I loved this article. It is scary and fascinating to see how this illness affects are brains and the damage it can cause.

  29. This is a great article explaining the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and how it can affect your memory and thought patterns.

  30. Well a well written article, I have a family member who has Alzheimer and this has been very informative

  31. It’s so interesting how scientists can identify different neurotransmitters within the brain. It’s even more interesting how our thoughts, memories and actions are all spurred by basic electrical charges. The human brain is fascinating.

  32. This is interesting. You did a good job making a complicated problem easier to understand.

  33. I don’t know if i am just ignorant in finding information, but this article discredits my knowledge about Alzheimer and its effects to the brain. Mostly it is known to cause someone to forget. This is so informative.

  34. I didn’t know Alzheimer’s reasons the cerebrum to recoil. I knew it made you overlook things. This has a great deal of data about Alzheimer’s. My sibling had it. I trust the specialists can discover a cure for it at some point.

  35. Thank you so much for posting this wonderful article..I was unconcerned about the Alzheimer and now I am totally aware.Very informative…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s