Caudate Nucleus Grows and Hippocampus Shrinks in Alzheimer's Brains

Monday, August 7, 2017

A collaborative study between research institutes in Canada and Norway recently found that people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have a bigger caudate nucleus, which is the region in the brain responsible for ingrained habits and ‘autopilot.’ Researchers examined the caudate nucleus and hippocampus volume of 257 seniors that either had AD or were exhibiting signs of mild cognitive impairment, finding that those with AD had a smaller hippocampus and a larger caudate nucleus. Dr. Veronique Bohbot of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University explains that the important part of this research is its diagnostic potential: “Atrophy of the hippocampus and neighbouring brain structures are known to be one of the best predictors of future diagnosis of AD. In both humans and rodents, past research found that when the caudate nucleus was larger, the hippocampus was smaller.” A small hippocampus is correlated with greater risk of developing AD, schizophrenia, and depression, among other diseases. “We don't know yet whether the caudate nucleus plays an active role in AD, but we do know that the caudate nucleus plays an active role at inhibiting the hippocampus.” Dr. Bohbot suggests that older adults engage in activities that stimulate the hippocampus rather than the caudate nucleus to protect their brains as they age.

SOURCE: Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/318758.php

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ane.12800/full  

DATE RETRIEVED: August 4, 2017

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