The Dementias: Hope Through Research

Glossary

Alpha-synuclein—a protein that is implicated in abnormal clumps called Lewy bodies, which are seen in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and some dementias. Disorders in which alpha-synuclein accumulates inside nerve cells are called synucleinopathies.

Alzheimer’s disease—the most common cause of dementia in people age 65 and older. Nearly all brain functions, including memory, movement, language, judgment, and behavior, are eventually affected.

Amyloid—a protein found in the characteristic clumps of tissue (called plaques) that appear in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy—a form of dementia caused by repeated traumatic brain injury.

Corticobasal degeneration—a progressive disorder characterized by nerve cell loss and atrophy in multiple areas of the brain.

Dementia—a term for a collection of symptoms that significantly impair thinking and normal activities and relationships.

Dementia with Lewy bodies—a type of Lewy body dementia that is a common form of progressive dementia.

Frontotemporal disorders—a group of dementias characterized by degeneration of nerve cells, especially those in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

HIV-associated dementia—a dementia that results from infection with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.

Lewy body dementia—one of the most common types of progressive dementia, characterized by the presence of abnormal structures called Lewy bodies in the brain.

Mixed dementia—dementia in which one form of dementia and another condition or dementia cause damage to the brain, for example, Alzheimer’s disease and small vessel disease or vascular dementia.

Multi-infarct dementia—a type of vascular dementia caused by numerous small strokes in the brain.

Neurofibrillary tangles—bundles of twisted filaments found in nerve cells in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. These tangles are largely made up of a protein called tau.

Parkinson’s disease dementia—a secondary dementia that sometimes occurs in people with advanced Parkinson’s disease. Many people with Parkinson’s have the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles found in Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not clear if the diseases are linked.

Tau—a protein that helps the functioning of microtubules, which are part of the cell’s structural support and help deliver substances throughout the cell. In Alzheimer’s disease, tau twists into filaments that become tangles. Disorders associated with an accumulation of tau, such as frontotemporal dementia, are called tauopathies.

Vascular dementia—a type of dementia caused by brain damage from cerebrovascular or cardiovascular problems, usually strokes.

Publication Date: September 2013
Page Last Updated: November 20, 2014