Posterior cortical atrophy

Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) is a rare form of dementia that usually begins by affecting a person’s vision. It is also known as Benson’s syndrome.

Researchers believe the symptoms of PCA are caused by changes in the brain cells that process visual information from our eyes. These cells are at the back of the brain. In PCA, it is not clear why the disease affects these areas of the brain rather than the areas affected by typical Alzheimer’s disease, like memory. Scientists are trying to find out more, as well as exploring possible genetic or lifestyle risk factors for the condition.

Alzheimer’s Research UK helped to fund the largest genetic study of PCA to date. The researchers found several genes that may influence a person’s risk of PCA, some of which had previously been linked to Alzheimer’s. You can’t be tested for these risk genes on the NHS because many only have a small effect on risk. However, their discovery is helping researchers understand more about why some people develop PCA.

This information was written in April 2019 and is due for review in April 2021. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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