Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes the slow but steady depletion of a person’s memory and cognitive ability. The thing that doctors are still trying to figure out is why the disease keeps getting worse over time.
Evidence is now showing a worrisome fact — thinking may actually worsen memory loss in people affected by Alzheimer’s. The reason sounds more complicated than it is. Your brain fires off messages between your brain cells. Normally, these impulses are harmless and they simply pass information from one cell to another.
However, in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, inflammation in the brain causes the cells to swell up and the impulses cannot pass across normally. So while the electrical impulses still reach the cell, the impulses still can’t enforce memories; instead it damages the neuron on the receiving end.
As a result, not only is the memory left unformed, but that neuron is also injured and defective, and it cannot be used to form memories in the future. When this happens to enough neurons, the decline in mental function is noticeable. Once this decline starts, it is impossible to reverse or stop it.
The good news is that doctors know that the impulses can be damaging to the brain and they can now work toward figuring out how to stop this damage in its tracks. Now, this doesn’t mean that they are going to figure out a way to stop people from thinking. Instead, the key is in creating a drug that could help nerve cells adapt to the attacks.
The idea is that by using small amounts of an irritant to stress brain cells, the body would send reinforcement. The cells would become stronger and better armed to fight against the negative effects of the electrical impulses. This way, the cells would incur considerably less damage and their function could be preserved as a result.
Hopefully this could help slow the damage from Alzheimer’s so people with the diseases could live longer, healthier, and more mentally sound lives.