These two images show human brains (as viewed from the top of the head). They were created by an imaging method called a PET scan. The two brains are clearly very different. The reason? The brain on the left is normal, but the brain on the right is that of a person with Alzheimer’s disease.
Why It Matters
- Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by permanent changes in the brain. People with the disease gradually lose their mental abilities. They can’t reason, remember, or take care of themselves. The disease keeps getting worse until it causes death.
- One in nine older Americans has Alzheimer’s disease. Chances are, one of the older people you know has the disease. Alzheimer’s is also the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition, it takes a huge financial toll. Providing care for people with Alzheimer’s disease costs an estimated 300 billion dollars each year.
- There is no cure for this devastating disorder. Drugs that are currently available can slow but not stop its advance. They also can’t restore brain cells that have been destroyed by the disease.
- Watch this video to learn more about current Alzheimer's disease causes, research, and studies:
Show What You Know
Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.
- What causes Alzheimer’s disease?
- What is a PET scan? How does it work?
- What does a PET scan show? How does it differ from other types of scans, such as MRI scans?