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Cognitive medicine - focus on Alzheimer and cerebrovascular disease

The term cognition describes the human brain’s ability to learn, think, and process information. For a normal daily life to be possible, cognitive functions must be intact. Impairment of cognitive functions results in difficulties in coping with both complex and everyday activities, such as daily planning, meeting the demands of work life, managing finances, preparing food, keeping order, socializing, or cultivating interests. Impaired cognitive functions also lead to an increased sensitivity to stress.

There are several disorders and medical procedures that show cognitive impairment as an important - though not always identified - manifestation, such as affective disorders, schizophrenia, abuse, neurological motor disorders, MS, traumatic brain injury, cancer, infections, vascular disease (ischemic heart disorder, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, stroke, small vessel disease), coronary by-pass surgery, and other major surgical procedures. Multimorbidity relatively often result in disabling cognitive impairment. Also increasingly acknowledged are cognitive effects and side effects of pharmaceutical treatments, not just of psychopharmacological drugs, but also for instance cytostatic drugs. The groups of disorders in which cognitive dysfunction constitutes the core symptomatology are developmental disorders, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)/autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimers disease, and cerebrovascular disease.

Dementia, stroke, and neuropsychiatric disorders account for up to 50% of the medically caused disability in low and middle income countries. The percentage is most likely higher in high income countries, due to the relatively larger share of elderly in these coutries. What unites these diseases is the fact that they impair cognition. This is obvious in the case of dementia and neuropsychiatric disorders, but it also applies to stroke, which usually consists of minor stroke, in which cognitive impairment predominates over motor symptoms.

Alzheimers disease and cerebrovascular disease are the quantitatively most important causes of cognitive impairment in adults. These, and other similar disorders, such as Lewy body disease and frontotemporal dementia, are the main focus of the research group.

Contact Information

Anders Wallin, professor

Wallinsgatan 6, 431 41 Mölndal

Phone:
+46 (0) 31 343 10 00

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Illustrations: Jacob Stålhammar.

Page Manager: Josefin Bergenholtz|Last update: 11/12/2013
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