Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological brain disorder which causes problems with memory, thinking skills, and behavior. It was named after a German physician, Aloïs Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. Dr. Alzheimer was a pioneer in linking the symptoms of what we now call Alzheimer’s disease to the abnormal clumps (amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (neurofibrillary tangles or tau) in the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease progresses over time, and because the life span of our population is growing longer, the number of people affected is increasing rapidly. Scientific researchers have made huge strides in understanding Alzheimer’s, raising strong hope that effective treatments, and possibly even a cure, are now within reach.

Memory loss is one of the earliest symptoms, along with a gradual decline of other intellectual and thinking abilities (called cognitive functions), and changes in personality or behavior. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.

Browse this section to learn about the possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease, what happens to the brain as the disease progresses, and what are the risk factors and symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

“What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?” We hear that all the time here at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. It’s a common question, and doctors can sometimes contribute to the confusion.
There are many reasons why it’s important to seek a doctor’s diagnosis as soon as possible. There are many causes of dementia symptoms, and this may determine how to treat it
See some of the first signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Is a clinical trial right for you or your loved one?
Scientific research is helping to inform and improve drug and non-drug approaches to the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
New York University’s Dr. Barry Reisberg outlines the seven major clinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Reisberg is the Clinical Director of New York University’s Aging and Dementia Research Center.