Our brains are the most complex structure in the known universe and we are still learning more about this vital organ every day.
Did you know?
Your brain weighs around 2% of your total body weight, but uses 20% of your blood supply.
There are around 90 billion nerve cells in our brains.
We also squeeze in another 90 billion other cells, plus blood vessels to help supply the nutrients and oxygen the brain needs.
There are more connections between all the nerves cells in your brain than there are stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
There are six main areas of our brains, controlling everything from memory to movement.
What about the other forms of dementia?
In dementia with Lewy bodies, the culprit is a protein called ‘alpha-synuclein’. It forms tiny spheres which are toxic.
During frontotemporal dementia, several different proteins can build up.
Vascular dementia occurs when blood vessels in the brain are damaged. This reduces blood flow to brain cells, which affects how they work.
The brain and dementia
During dementia, nerve cells in different areas of the brain become damaged and eventually die. For each different form of dementia, a different part of the brain may be affected first, and this is why symptoms can vary.
What causes these nerve cells to die in dementia is a hot topic and Alzheimer’s Research UK scientists are investigating this every day. What we do know is that many of the diseases that cause dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies and frontotemporal dementia, share a common feature – an excessive build-up of proteins in the brain.
In Alzheimer’s there are two culprit proteins, called amyloid and tau. They build up during the disease, become toxic and harm the brain and nerve cells. Amyloid makes sticky clumps or ‘plaques’ whereas tau forms tangles, twisting inside cells and blocking them from sending messages to each other.
Take a dementia brain tour
From movement to memory, find out what different parts of the brain do, and how they can be affected by dementia.