What changes in a brain region could be associated with the inability to correctly identify spatial location in Alzheimer’s?
Omar Ahmed, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI - United States
The vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s may experience challenges in spatial orientation, or the inability to recognize places and find their way from one location to another, even in familiar environments such as a neighborhood or home. Studies show that spatial disorientation may be observed in people who have damage to a brain region called the retrosplenial cortex. Studies indicate that the retrosplenial cortex helps merge visual and directional information to help people navigate their environment. and may be one of the first brain regions to show changes in early Alzheimer’s. However, it is not yet known how the function and activity of nerve cells in the retrosplenial cortex may be impacted in Alzheimer’s.
In preliminary studies, Dr. Omar Ahmed and colleagues used genetically engineered Alzheimer’s-like mice to perform spatial navigation experiments. They found changes in nerve cell communication between the retrosplenial cortex brain regions when the Alzheimer’s-like mice navigated an area, compared to navigation by cognitively unimpaired mice. Based on these findings, Dr. Ahmed believes that the retrosplenial cortex may be associated with challenges in spatial orientation in early Alzheimer’s.
Building on their preliminary findings, Dr. Ahmed’s team will study in more detail, changes in the nerve cell activity of the retrosplenial cortex in genetically engineered Alzheimer’s-like mice, and how these changes may impact the ability of these mice to navigate an area.
The researchers will also study the biology by which the activity of nerve cells may be impacted in the retrosplenial cortex. Nerve cells in the brain communicate by releasing and sensing signaling molecules (chemicals). The researchers will study the chemical molecules involved in nerve cell communication in the retrosplenial cortex in genetically engineered Alzheimer’s-like mice and compare their findings with cognitively unimpaired mice. Dr. Ahmed believes that these experiments may help in understanding how nerve cell activity in the retrosplenial cortex may be impacted in Alzheimer’s.
The study results may help understand how brain changes in the retrosplenial cortex in early Alzheimer’s may be associated with challenges in spatial orientation. If successful, the findings may reveal potential therapeutic targets that could prevent challenges in spatial orientation in Alzheimer’s.
Back to Top