The Effects OF Alzheimer’s Diseases On Memory Research Paper Sample
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Slight mental impairment and memory deterioration may sometimes be a part of a natural aging process. However, sometimes people develop mental diseases that assume pathological and life threatening forms. Alzheimer’s disease is one of such being a type of irreversible progressing dementia that affects the mental capacity of human brains. Brain process dysfunctions eventually leads to the loss of memory and dementia that reduce the life expectancy of whoever develops the disorder. The elderly individuals are primarily in the risk group for disease development. The point is that Alzheimer’s disease is a dangerous neurological illness that has the potential of producing the loss of emotional, semantic and other types of memory that become affected depending on the stage of disease progress.
Alzheimer Disease and Established Dementia as Its Direct Outcome
Alzheimer’s disease (generally abbreviated as AD) is a condition that leads to changes in the human brain and affects the memory of an individual along with other mental abilities. The disease has a wide range of effects on the brain of an individual and as it progresses so does its effect on the individual’s life and those around him or her (Perry, 2013). Ever since its discovery in 1906, very little was known about the disease until the 1980s when further research was done to understand its relation to genetics, biological factors and environmental issues that may cause it (Lifshitz, Farfara and Frenkel, 2010). Multiple discoveries regarding the disease have been made enabling the understanding of the manifestations, diagnosis and possibly the treatment of the condition (Shua-Haim and Ross, 2009).
The connection between Alzheimer disease and established dementia was one of findings made during the time. Dementia is an affected ability of remembering things and thinking, which is the outcome of Alzheimer disease, as argued by medicine and psychology experts. According to New York Presbyterian. The University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell (2006), there are normal memory loss, reversible memory loss and permanent memory loss that take their unique toll on the human mental capacity. As the third category of memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease does irreversible permanent damage to brain cells. In 90% of cases, AD patients develop established dementia, which is a medical condition that undermines the normal functioning of human brains. Alzheimer’s disease causes established dementia at twice the pace of vascular dementia. Doctors need to conduct a medical evaluation the better to treat individuals with AD symptomatic signs (New York Presbyterian. The University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell, 2006).
The Impact of Alzheimer Disease on Emotional Memory
According to Kensinger, Anderson, Growdon, and Corkin (2004), the signature characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is substantial memory deficit that has place at the early stages of the disorder. What cause the deficit are neuropathological changes in medial temporal lobe regions playing a central role in declarative memory. Extracellular amyloid plaques and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles are believed to be the changes responsible for the deficit development. Declarative memory deficit has been a recognized characteristic of the disorder for at least a century; however, scientists had not studied the impact of the disease on memory modulation by emotion until recently. The question that remained unstudied was whether AD patients had a normal memory enhancement effect.
Abrisqueta-Gomez, Bueno, Oliveira, and Bertolucci (2002), Hamann, Monarch, and Goldstein (2000), and Kensinger, Brierley, Medford, Growdon, and Corkin (2002) found a correlation between the disorder and the deterioration in the enhancement effect for negative pictures (as cited in Kensinger et. al., 2004). Kensinger, Brierley, Medford, Growdon, and Corkin (2002) found the impairment in the enhancement effect for positive pictures while Abrisqueta-Gomez, Bueno, Oliveira, and Bertolucci (2002) established the fact that AD impaired the effect for negative and positive words along with negative sentences (as cited in Kensinger et. al., 2004). Besides these modifications in emotionally influenced declarative memory, patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can show the signs of deterioration in emotionally medicated implicit memory. Padovan, Versace, Thomas-Anterion, and Laurent (2002) observed issues related to affective priming for positive stimuli while Hamann, Monarch, and Goldstein (2002) reported to have found impairment in fear conditioning that normally allows people to predict various repugnant events (as cited in Kensinger et. al., 2004).
Contrasting are the findings of other scholars, with a relatively unimpaired enhancement effect for positive pictures found by Hamann, Monarch, and Goldstein (2000) during their research on the issue (as cited in Kensinger et. al., 2004). The same observation holds true for negative film clips or stories, as suggested by Boller, El Massioui, Devouche, Traykov, Pomati, and Starkstein (2002), Kazui, Mori, Hashimoto, Hirono, Imamura, and Tanimukai (2000), Moayeri, Cahill, Jin, and Potkin (2000) in their respective studies (as cited in Kensinger et. al., 2004). The same can be said of real-life events like the Kobe earthquake, as argued by Ikeda, Mori, Hirono, Imamura, Shimomura, and Ikejiri (1998) and Mori, Ikeda, Hirono, Kitagaki, Imamura, and Simomura (1999) in the scientific works (as cited in Kensinger et. al., 2004). The reasons for empirical findings to be contradictive are that distinctions in patient populations determined distinctions across researches and that differences in stimuli resulted in opposite findings.
The Effects of Alzheimer Disease on Semantic Memory
Linn, Wolf, Bachman, Knoefel, Cobb, Belanger, Kaplan, D’Agostino (1995) and Masur, Sliwinski, Lipton, Blau, Crystal (1994) stated that a deterioration in episodic memory was one of AD hallmarks existing years before the dementia receives a clinical diagnosing (as cited in Vogel, Gade, Stokholm, and Waldemar, 2004). According to Tulving (1983), theoretically differentiated from episodic memory, semantic memory regards the knowledge of objects, facts, words, and their meaning being time-independent and culturally shared (as cited in Vogel et. al., 2004). Martin and Fedio (1983) claimed that AD-related deterioration in semantic memory was to be observed on tests of naming objects (as cited in Vogel et. al., 2004). Hodges, Salmon, and Butters (1993) and Thompson, Graham, Patterson, Sahakian, Hodges (2002) noted that Alzheimer patients had problems naming and recognizing the faces of celebrities (as cited in Vogel et. al., 2004).
A number of studies have established the frequency of Alzheimer’s diseases. Perry and Hodges (2000) stated that as many as 50% of those suffering from mild AD have semantic memory deterioration. What is essential is that semantic memory along with spatial functions is potentially the most vital cognitive domain required for routine skill performance (as cited in Vogel et. al., 2004). Vogel, Gade, Stokholm, and Waldemar (2004) noted that only a handful of studies have evaluated whether deterioration on tasks related to semantic memory was identifiable in Alzheimer patients before dementia diagnosis. Still, Albert, Moss, Tanzi, and Jones (2001), Jacobs, Sano, Dooneief, Marder, Bell, Stern (1995), and Perry and Hodges (2000) declared slight impairments to be observed (as cited in Vogel et. al., 2004). Overall, the studies did not specifically evaluated semantic functions. There was no specific study conducted on if deficits in semantic memory along with episodic memory deterioration at the prodromal AD stage had place (Vogel et. al., 2004).
Alzheimer’s Disease Stages and Related Memory Impairments
According to California Department of Healthcare Services (n.d.), mild cognitive decline, the third stage of cognitive impairments, was the early diagnosing stage of AD. Individuals can experience such concentration and memory-related problems or difficulties like finding names or words visible to close associates or family members, performance problems in work or social settings visible to surrounding people, the degenerated ability of recollecting names while introduced to yet unknown individuals, a decrease in the ability of organizing and planning. Misplacing or losing objects of value and problems related to reading a passage and remembering little content are also characteristic of mild cognitive decline.
Moderate cognitive decline, the fourth stage of cognitive impairments, is considered early-stage or mild AD. Deficiencies become clear and noticeable to diagnosing specialists in areas like the reduced knowledge of recent events, the impaired capacity of performing complex tasks like planning dinner for guests, marketing, managing finances or paying bills, the decreased ability of executing difficult mental arithmetic, and the decreased memory of personal history. Disorder sufferers may appear dispirited and reserved, as is the case in mentally and socially challenges episodes. Moderately severe cognitive decline, the fifth stage of cognitive impairments, is thought to be the mid-stage or moderate Alzheimer’s disease. For routine activities to be performed as usual, patients with AD in this phase require external aid (California Department of Healthcare Services, n.d.).
While at this stage, the disorder causes sufferers to prove unable to recollect essential details, such as telephone number, current address, the name of the educational establishment they graduated from in their time. Alzheimer patients may find it difficult to cope with less difficult mental arithmetic. Becoming perplexed by the date, season, the day of the week, or current location, and requiring assistance with choosing appropriate articles of clothing for a particular occasion or season are usually reported. However, individuals are still capable of keeping important knowledge about themselves intact as well as remembering their name and those of spouses and children. AD sufferers do not require help by using toilet or eating (California Department of Healthcare Services, n.d.). That there no issues as concerns eating and toilet habits means habit or procedural memory remains unharmed in this phase.
California Department of Healthcare Services (n.d.) suggested that severe cognitive decline, the sixth stage of cognitive impairments, was otherwise referred to as mid-stage or moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease. Memory problems are on the further decline, besides serious personality changes and the need of assistance with routine activities. AD sufferers are likely to lose knowledge of their surroundings or recent events and experiences. Though remembering their own names, Alzheimer patients can remember their personal history, yet doing so is far from perfect (California Department of Healthcare Services n.d.). A personal history refers to the life events of a person diagnosed with the disorder. If so, issues with recollecting personal history concern the declarative episodic or autobiographic memory that becomes affected by Alzheimer’s disease. According to California Department of Healthcare Services (n.d.), while able to differentiate familiar and unfamiliar faces, Alzheimer sufferers may come to forget the names of their caregivers or spouses. Procedural memory seems to suffer in this phase, as individuals with the disorder have hard times getting dressed properly without external help.
They may be seen making mistakes by putting shoes on wrong feet or pajamas over daytime clothing. Habit memory does impair since Alzheimer people cannot cope with toileting procedures like disposing of tissue or flushing the toilet by themselves. Becoming lost or wandering are indicative of this disorder stage. There may emerge behavioral symptomatic signs like hallucinations or delusions (California Department of Healthcare Services, n.d.). There seems to be a topographic or visual memory deterioration in AD patients in this phase since they tend to become lost or wander. An Alzheimer patient mistakes a caregiver for an impostor possibly because the visual image of the caregiver previously caught by sensory receptors went missing due to a sensory memory impairment. Auditory hallucinations without any stimulus are also an impairment of sensory memory.
Very severe cognitive decline, the seventh stage of cognitive impairments, is a late-stage or severe AD. Disorder sufferers are no longer able to react to the environment, speak, and control their movements (California Department of Healthcare Services, n.d.). The inability of controlling movements indicates motor skill impairments. Procedural memory is usually responsible for motor skills, or designedly initiated movements implemented by muscular and motor elements. According to California Department of Healthcare Services (n.d.), individuals are no longer capable of recognizing speech; still, they may sometimes utter phrases or words. Eating and toileting require external assistance. Alzheimer patients can no more walk without support than they can sit on their own. The ability of holding the head up worsens significantly. Reflexes grow abnormal while muscles become inflexible. Swallowing becomes a problem (California Department of Healthcare Services, n.d.). All habitual daily action skills acquired and stored in habit memory impair as the disorder progresses.
Alzheimer disease is a condition resulting in human brain changes that reduce the abilities of thinking and recollecting, to say nothing of other mental processes and capacities. The further AD progresses, the more devastating the impact on memory and other mental processes it will have. Not until the 1980s did scientists initiate a deep research in the area. One of findings made during the past 30-year period is that the disorder causes established dementia, the eventual loss of thinking and remembering abilities. It has also been established that AD affects emotional memory. Scholars identified the relationship between the disorder and the deterioration in the enhancement effect for negative pictures, positive pictures, negative and positive words, and negative sentences.
More importantly, AD patients were found to show the signs of deterioration in emotionally medicated implicit memory. Other scholars focused on the impact of disorder on semantic memory tasked with storing the knowledge of objects, facts, words, and their meaning. As has been suggested by scientists, Alzheimer disease causes different memory impairment depending on the stage of the disorder. From mild cognitive decline, as the early-stage AD to very severe cognitive decline, or late stage AD, disorder sufferers can have their procedural or habit memory, topographic or visual memory, and autobiographic memory affected as seen in their inability of performing daily activities, the poor sense of locality, and problems recollecting personal history among other things. Overall, Alzheimer disease is a life-threatening irreversible disease that affects the mental capacities and abilities of a human brain, such as recollecting things and storing visual and other images.
California Department of Healthcare Services. Community-based Adult Services. (n.d.). Guide to determine Alzheimer’s disease or dementia stages for CBAS screening. Aging.ca.gov. Retrieved from: http://www.aging.ca.gov/programsproviders/adhc-cbas/Forms/2011/Guide_to_Determine_Alzheimers_Disease_or_Dementia_Stages.pdf
Kensinger, E.A., Anderson, A., Growdon, J.H., and Corkin, S. (2004). Effects of Alzheimer disease on memory for verbal emotional information. Neuropsychologia, 42, 791-800. Retrieved from: https://www2.bc.edu/~kensinel/Kensinger_Neurop04.pdf
Lifshitz, V., Farfara, D., & Frenkel, D. (2010). "Glia Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease: New Insights for the Development of Alzheimer's Disease Pathology." Alzheimer's &
Dementia, 4(34), 193.
New York Presbyterian. The University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell. (2006). Memory Loss: what is normal? CornellCares.org. Retrieved from: http://www.cornellcares.org/pdf/handouts/cei_memory.pdf
Perry, G. (2013). Alzheimers Disease Advances for a New Century. Amsterdam: IOS.
Shua-Haim, J. R., and Ross, J. S. (2009). "Alzheimer's Syndrome and Not Alzheimer's Disease: The Historical Struggle to Define the Disease." American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, 5(3), 92-95.
Vogel, A., Gade, A., Stokholm, J., and Waldemar, G. (2004). Semantic memory impairment in the earliest phases of Alzheimer’s disease. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord, 19, 75-81. DOI: 10.1159/000082352
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