Brain Region Crucial to Memory and Cognition Is First to Exhibit Buildup of Alzheimer-linked Proteins, Study Finds

Brain Region Crucial to Memory and Cognition Is First to Exhibit Buildup of Alzheimer-linked Proteins, Study Finds
A critical but vulnerable brain region seems to be the first area disturbed by late onset Alzheimer’s disease, and to be a region more essential for preserving cognitive function in later life than previously thought, according to a review, “The Locus Coeruleus: Essential for Maintaining Cognitive Function and the Aging Brain,” published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Research on cognitive aging has focused on how the decline in various cortical and hippocampal regions influences cognition. However, brainstem regions play essential modulatory roles, and new evidence suggests that, among these, the integrity of the locus coeruleus (LC)–norepinephrine (NE) system plays a key role in determining late-life cognitive abilities. The locus coeruleus is the principal site for brain synthesis of norepinephrine (noradrenaline), the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating attention, memory and cognition, as well as heart rate, and the neurons in this region help regulate the activity of blood vessels. As the review's lead author, Mara Mather, wrote, the high interconnectedness of the locus coeruleus may make it more vulnerable to the effects of toxins and infections than is evident in other brain regions. According to Dr. Mather, the locus coeruleus is the first region that exhibits tauopathi
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