Cognitive functions include thought processes, memory capacity, and ability to be attentive. In this chapter’s disorders, cognitive impairment is the central characteristic. In DSM-IV-TR , this set of disorders is titled delirium, dementia, amnestic, and other cognitive disorders.
People with temporal lobe epilepsy may experience a number of symptoms, such as increased fear, mood swings, inappropriate affect, bursts of anger, illusions or hallucinations, altered thought processes, and bizarre behavior.
They may also experience delusions, illusions, or hallucinations, as well as emotional disturbances like anxiety, euphoria, or irritability.
People of any age can experience delirium, but it is more common among medically or psychiatrically hospitalized older adult patients.
In other words, this is amnesia with biological causes.
Those due to medical conditions can be chronic (lasting a month or more) or transient (temporary). Such medical conditions include head trauma, loss of oxygen, herpes simplex.
Note the word persisting , to distinguish this from passing effects of substance intoxication or substance withdrawal.
Dementia: A form of cognitive impairment involving generalized progressive deficits in a person's memory and learning of new information, ability to communicate, judgment, and motor coordination. Most people who fear they are developing the dementia known as Alzheimer’s are likely to be wrong. For those with Alzheimer’s, though, memory loss becomes more pronounced.
Aphasia: A loss of the ability to use language caused by damage to the brain’s speech and language centers. Wernicke’s aphasia: The individual is able to produce words but has lost ability to comprehend them. The person with Broca’s aphasia has a disturbance of language production, but comprehension abilities are intact.
The odds that a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life are actually low. It is NOT an inevitable part of the aging process. Uncomplicated: Cases for which none of the other characteristics apply.
Neurofibrillary tangles: A characteristic of Alzheimer's disease in which the material within the cell bodies of neurons becomes filled with densely packed, twisted protein microfibrils, or tiny strands. Amyloid plaques: A characteristic of Alzheimer's disease in which clusters of dead or dying neurons become mixed together with fragments of protein molecules.
Pictured: Actor Michael J. Fox, who has struggled for years with Parkinson’s Disease.
AIDS dementia: Subtle deterioration in cognitive functioning is sometimes the first clue that a person has AIDS, for individuals for whom dementia precedes other AIDS symptoms. Pick's disease: A relatively rare degenerative disease that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex and that can cause dementia. Parkinson's disease: A disease that involves degeneration of neurons in subcortical structures that control motor movements, and can cause dementia in up to 60% of Parkinson’s patients. Lewy body dementia: A form of dementia similar to Alzheimer's disease with progressive loss of memory, language, calculation, and reasoning, as well as other higher mental functions. Diagnosed when Lewy bodies (deposits of protein found in dying nerves) are found more diffusely throughout the brain.
Frontotemporal dementias involve the frontal lobes of the brain. Rather than involving a decline in memory, this is reflected in personality changes such as apathy, lack of inhibition, obsessiveness, or loss of judgment. Eventually, motivation and communication are lost. Huntington's disease: A hereditary condition causing dementia that involves a widespread deterioration of the subcortical brain structures and parts of the frontal cortex that control motor movements. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: A neurological disease transmitted from animals to humans that leads to dementia and death resulting from abnormal protein accumulations in the brain. Vascular dementia: A form of dementia resulting from a vascular disease that causes deprivation of the blood supply to the brain.
Although people with Alzheimer’s disease may also have depression, particularly during the early to middle phases, simply being depressed may interfere with thought, memory, and motivation in ways that resemble early stages of Alzheimer’s.
As of this writing, there is no cure. Treatments are aimed at (1) slowing progression of the disorder, and (2) managing the patient’s behavior and quality of life.