Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

pp 1-8

Date: Latest Version

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Russell H. SwerdlowAffiliated withUniversity of Kansas School of Medicine, Landon Center on Aging Email author 
  • , Heather AndersonAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • , Jeffrey M. BurnsAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, University of Kansas School of Medicine

Definition

A neurodegenerative disease of the brain characterized clinically by insidious, chronic, and progressive cognitive decline and histologically by cerebral accumulations of the proteins beta amyloid (plaques) and tau (tangles).

Historical Background

In 1902, a woman called Auguste D. came under the care of Dr. Alois Alzheimer and then at the University of Frankfurt. The patient manifested changes in behavior and cognition. Her clinical course was characterized by progressive paranoia, delusional thinking, disorientation, and poor memory. She was institutionalized for the last 3 years of her life. Upon her death, Alzheimer analyzed her brain using a silver stain and described both extracellular and intracellular protein accumulations. The extracellular protein accumulations were termed plaques, and the intraneuronal protein accumulations were called tangles. Alzheimer presented the results of this autopsy in 1906. Several other similar cases of relatively “presenile” (i.e., arbitr ...

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