Researchers Find That Tangles are Responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease Onset in Neocortical Networks

Researchers Find That Tangles are Responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease Onset in Neocortical Networks
Researchers from Bar-Ilan University and the University of Edinburgh were able to characterize for the first time changes in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease that occur inside individual brains. Results from the study published in the journal Neuron suggest that Alzheimer's-affected cells result in a reduction of electrical activity throughout the cerebral cortex -- the brain’s center of higher mental function and cognition. The research team is led by Edward Stern, Dana Cohen and Tara Spires-Jones. As Dr. Edward Stern, the lead author of the study, recently explained in a news release, the study's results are due to a research focus on a brain cell pathology known as "tangles." "Alzheimer's disease is associated with three pathologies: cell death, extra-cellular build-up of amyloid plaques, and tangles — the abnormal twisting of the cellular filaments which hold the neuron in its proper shape," Stern said, adding that tangles are caused by an aberrant form of a protein known as tau. "While it was already known that pathological tau is associated with dementia, ours is the first study to reveal the tau-linked changes in cell- and network-based activity that underlies neurodegeneration. Significantly, we found that if even a small number of cells have tangles, this amplifies into a devastating effect across the entire network, characterized by long latencies between spikes of inter-neuron communication, as well as a reduction in the overall level of synaptic activity." For the study, the team used a technique th
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