Alzheimer’s Disease: Brain Region That Makes The Elderly Forget Their Way Found

by Rishika Gupta on  April 2, 2019 at 8:51 PM Research News
RSS Email Print This Page Comment bookmark
Font : A-A+

Brain region responsible for finding a place in a familiar environment has been found. Damage to this region as a result of Alzheimer's disease explains why people forget their way in familiar environments.
 Alzheimer’s Disease: Brain Region That Makes The Elderly Forget Their Way Found
Alzheimer’s Disease: Brain Region That Makes The Elderly Forget Their Way Found

The study, published today in Cerebral Cortex, is the first to identify the specific brain regions used in guiding the navigation of familiar places.

Researchers observed that a brain region long-known to be involved in new learning - the hippocampus - was involved in tracking distance to a destination in a 'newly learned' environment.

However, when navigating a familiar place, another brain region - the retrosplenial cortex - was found to "take over" tracking the distance to the destination.

"Our findings are significant because they reveal that there are in fact two different parts of the brain that guide navigation," says Professor Hugo Spiers (UCL Experimental Psychology), senior author on the study.

"Which part gets used depends on whether you are in a place you know well or a place you only visited recently. The results help to explain why damage to the retrosplenial cortex in Alzheimer's disease is so debilitating, and why these patients get lost even in very familiar environments.."

The research team worked with students from UCL and Imperial College London. The students' brain activity was monitored as they navigated a simulation of their own familiar campus and the other university's campus, which was 'newly learned' days before.

The researchers also explored the impact of Sat-Navs by having students navigate the campuses with directions overlaid on the route in front of them. Strikingly, neither the hippocampus nor retrosplenial cortex continued to track distance to the destination when using this Sat-Nav-like device.

"We wondered whether navigating a very familiar place would be similar to using a Sat-Nav, seeing as you don't need to think as much about where you're going in a familiar place," says Professor Spiers. "However, the results show this isn't the case; the brain is more engaged in processing the space when you are using your memory."

"This has significant implications for ongoing research into Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Zita Patai (UCL Experimental Psychology), first author on the study. "Specifically, how the deterioration of different brain regions contributes to fundamental behaviors such as memory and navigation, and how this changes over time."

Source: Eurekalert

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
Notify me when reply is posted
I agree to the terms and conditions
Advertisement

Recommended Reading

More News on:

Parkinsons Disease Parkinsons Disease Surgical Treatment Brain Diseases Related to Old Age Brain Facts Ataxia Language Areas in The Brain Ways to Improve your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) 

News A - Z

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

News Search

Medindia Newsletters

Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Find a Doctor

Stay Connected

  • Available on the Android Market
  • Available on the App Store

News Category

News Archive