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Alzheimer's Disease Glossary

Terms used to explain Alzheimer's can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.


Pronunciation: \ˌant-i-di-ˈpres-ənt, ˌan-ˌtī-\

Function: adjective
: used or tending to relieve or prevent psychic depression


Pronunciation: \(ˈ)ā-ˈprak-sē-ə\

Function: noun
: loss or impairment of the ability to execute complex coordinated movements without muscular or sensory impairment compare eupraxia

CT Scan

CT scan
Pronunciation: \(ˈ)sē-ˈtē-\

Function: noun
: see: cat scan


Pronunciation: \di-ˈlir-ē-əm\

Function: noun
: a mental disturbance characterized by confusion, disordered speech, and hallucinations


Pronunciation: \ˈdō-pə-ˌmēn\

Function: noun
1: a monoamine C8H11NO2 that is a decarboxylated form of dopa and occurs esp. as a neurotransmitter in the brain and as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of epinephrine see intropin


Pronunciation: \ik-ˈsīt-ə-ˌtäk-sən\

Function: noun
: an excitotoxic agent (as kainic acid)


Pronunciation: \ˌhip-ə-ˈkam-pəs\

Function: noun
pl -pi
Pronunciation: \-ˌpī, -(ˌ)pē\
: a curved elongated ridge that is an important part of the limbic system, extends over the floor of the descending horn of each lateral ventricle of the brain, consists of gray matter covered on the ventricular surface with white matter, and is involved in forming, storing, and processing memory see pes hippocampi

Limbic System

limbic system
Function: noun
: a group of subcortical structures (as the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the amygdala) of the brain that are concerned esp. with emotion and motivation


Pronunciation: \ˌem-(ˌ)är-ˈī\

Function: noun
: see: magnetic resonance imaging; also: a procedure in which magnetic resonance imaging is used


Pronunciation: \ˌn(y)ur-ō-tran(t)s-ˈmit-ər, -tranz-\

Function: noun
: a substance (as norepinephrine or acetylcholine) that transmits nerve impulses across a synapse see false neurotransmitter


Pronunciation: \-jē\

Function: noun
pl -gies

1: the study of the essential nature of diseases and esp. of the structural and functional changes produced by them
2: the anatomic and physiological deviations from the normal that constitute disease or characterize a particular disease
3: a treatise on or compilation of abnormalities <a new pathology of the eye>


Pronunciation: \plə-ˈsē-(ˌ)bō\

Function: noun
pl -bos

1: a usu. pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder
2: an inert or innocuous substance used esp. in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance (as a drug)


Function: noun

1 a: a localized abnormal patch on a body part or surface and esp. on the skin <psoriatic plaque>
b: a sticky usu. colorless film on teeth that is formed by and harbors bacteria
c: an atherosclerotic lesion
d: a histopathologic lesion of brain tissue that is characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and consists of a dense proteinaceous core composed primarily of beta-amyloid that is often surrounded and infiltrated by a cluster of degenerating axons and dendrites —called also senile plaque
2: a visibly distinct and esp. a clear or opaque area in a bacterial culture produced by damage to or destruction of cells by a virus


Pronunciation: \sī-ˈkō-səs\

Function: noun

1: a serious mental disorder (as schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality often with hallucinations or delusions


Pronunciation: \ˈsed-ət-iv\

Function: adjective
: tending to calm, moderate, or tranquilize nervousness or excitement <sedative[1] effects of anesthetics and analgesics Linda C. Haynes et al>


Pronunciation: \ˌsir-ə-ˈtō-nən, ˌser-\

Function: noun
: a phenolic amine neurotransmitter C10H12N2O that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found esp. in the brain, blood serum, and gastric mucous membrane of mammals —called also 5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine


Pronunciation: \ˈsin-ˌaps also sə-ˈnaps, chiefly Brit ˈsī-ˌnaps\

Function: noun

1: the place at which a nervous impulse passes from one neuron to another
2: see: synapsis


Pronunciation: \ˈthī-ˌroid\

Function: adjective

1 a: of, relating to, affecting, or being the thyroid gland <thyroid[1] disorders>
2: of, relating to, or being the thyroid cartilage


Pronunciation: \ˈvas-kyə-lər\

Function: adjective

1: of, relating to, constituting, or affecting a tube or a system of tubes for the conveyance of a body fluid (as blood or lymph) <vascular disease> <vascular surgical techniques>
2: supplied with or containing ducts and esp. blood vessels <a vascular tumor> <the vascular layer of the skin>

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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More than 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's disease, with a new person developing the disease every 70 seconds. Americans ages 65 and older with Alzheimer's and dementia pay three times as much in health care costs.