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A damaged brain neuron can readjust to damage only The belief that pronounced and progressive mental decline is if its cell body remains intact. If it does, regrowth can occur in inevitable was and still is popular for several reasons. For one, until dendrites and axons. When neurons are destroyed, nearby surviv- the 20th century, few people lived past 65. In 1900, when average ing neurons can compensate, in part, by growing new dendrites and life expectancy was about 47 years, 3 million people, or 4 percent connections.

The earliest symptoms of AD include forgetfulness; disorienta- In the earliest stages, the clinical diagnosis of possible or probable AD can be made with greater than 80 percent accuracy. tion to time or place; and difficulty with concentration, calcula- As the course of the disease progresses, the accuracy of diagnosis tion, language, and judgment. As the disease progresses, some at Alzheimer’s research centers exceeds 90 percent. The diagnosis patients have severe behavioral disturbances and may even become depends on medical history, physical and neurological examina- psychotic.

5 to 3 of every 1,000 babies born in the United States, is the leading preventable cause of mental retarda- BRAIN DRUG REWARD SYSTEMS. Scientists are not certain about all tion. Cirrhosis, the main chronic health problem associated with the structures involved in the human brain reward system. However, studies of alcohol addiction, and other chronic liver diseases are responsible for rat and monkey brains, and brain imaging studies in humans, have provided more than 25,000 deaths each year. The annual cost of alcohol abuse many clues.

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