Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A New Picture Of The Brain May Reveal The Key To Alzheimer's

Date:
May 9, 2000
Source:
Boston University
Summary:
Vertical structures, called microcolumns, found in the cerebral cortex of normal brains, are disrupted in the brains of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, report Boston University scientists in the cover story of the May 9th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Boston University Physicists Correlate Disappearance of Vertical StructuresWith Loss of Brain Function

Related Articles


(Boston, Mass.) — Vertical structures, called microcolumns, found in the cerebral cortex of normal brains, are disrupted in the brains of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, report Boston University scientists in the cover story of the May 9th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"These structures, normally found in the cerebral cortex – the six-layered portion of the human brain that controls higher functions such as rational thought and speech – may hold the key to understanding, and perhaps reversing, the ravages of this devastating disease," says H. Eugene Stanley, co-senior author and director of Boston University’s Center for Polymer Studies.

The team of physicists, working on tissue samples supplied by Bradley Hyman, director of the Alzheimer’s Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, developed a novel imaging technology based on statistical physics to visualize and analyze brain tissue. They compared the brains of subjects stricken with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and a related condition known as Lewy body dementia (LBD) with those from control subjects.

The new imaging technique revealed microcolumns — chains of about 11 neurons linked together like the segments of a snake — running perpendicularly through the levels, or laminae, of the cerebral cortex in normal subjects. "In LBD we saw practically no such microcolumns," says lead author Sergey Buldyrev, "and in AD the columns were much smaller and less pronounced than in the controls."

Microcolumns have been believed to play a role in brain function for some time, but this is the first time they have been quantified and compared in normal and diseased brains. Furthermore, the study revealed that the absence of microcolumns is in direct proportion to the number of fibrillary tangles in the brain, but not related to the number of senile neuritic plaques. Tangles and plaques are the two primary changes in brain tissue that are believed to be causally related to the death of brain cells that characterizes Alzheimer’s.

"We found that in AD and LBD disease the microcolumn organization is disrupted — and this disruption may correlate with cognitive impairment," says Buldyrev. "This finding is consistent with the fact that in AD roughly half of the neurons are lost in the disease making it very likely that any organization in the brain would be lost as well. In LBD, however, only 10 percent or fewer of the neurons are lost — and yet it still appears that there is a dramatic absence of microcolumns. This disruption of the microcolumnar organization is surprising and leads us to surmise that the loss of vertical organization is connected to the cognitive loss in these diseases."

The imaging technique relies on methods developed in the field of statistical physics for the study of liquids and crystals. It involves developing a centered density matrix for the area around each neuron in a tissue image and averaging the results for many neurons to calculate a statistically average environment for a typical neuron. This allows the scientists to magnify tiny features of the neuronal architecture, such as microcolumns. The technique may also someday be applied to study tissue changes in other neurological diseases, such as schizophrenia.

The full text article is available prior to publication under the 18 April 2000 heading at: http://www.pnas.org/papbyrecent.shtml.

Images can be found at: http://polymer.bu.edu/~ccruz/AD/gallery/neuron/naturesub_pics/natsub.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Boston University. "A New Picture Of The Brain May Reveal The Key To Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000509003053.htm>.
Boston University. (2000, May 9). A New Picture Of The Brain May Reveal The Key To Alzheimer's. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000509003053.htm
Boston University. "A New Picture Of The Brain May Reveal The Key To Alzheimer's." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000509003053.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins