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Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation:
doi: 10.1097/TGR.0b013e31821e588e
Alzheimer Disease Cognitive-Communication Interventions

Plasticity in Early Alzheimer Disease: An Opportunity for Intervention

Hill, Nikki L. MS, RN; Kolanowski, Ann M. PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN; Gill, David J. MD

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Abstract

The scientific evidence of plasticity, or the brain's dynamic ability to alter its organization and activation throughout one's lifetime, has increased significantly over the last decade. This analytic review evaluates selected evidence regarding the persistence of plasticity in people with early-stage Alzheimer disease (AD). Functional neuroimaging provides persuasive evidence of plasticity throughout aging as well as the early stages of dementia, including the possibility of a heightened response during the prodromal period of AD. Behavioral outcomes research demonstrates the ability of people with early-stage AD to relearn previously forgotten information or otherwise improve cognitive abilities after a cognition-focused intervention. Both of these bodies of evidence support the existence of compensatory processes at work, even in the presence of dementia-related pathology. This retained ability of the brain to adapt to neurodegenerative disease in an attempt to maintain function may provide a valuable opportunity for intervention, particularly in the prodromal or earliest stages of AD.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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