The Jargon Buster gives an explanation to scientific words/terms and expressions used in our articles and on our website.

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ACETYLCHOLINE search for term

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which is involved in transmitting information between nerve cells.

ALLELE search for term

Is an alternative form of a gene resulting in different traits. For example alleles play a part in skin colour, eye colour or hair colour.

AMINO ACID search for term

Biological compounds composed of amine and carboxylic acid functional groups, along with a side-chain specific to each amino acid. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, though other elements are found in the side-chains of certain amino acids. Amino acids are important for nutrition and are commonly used in nutritional supplements. Industrial uses include drug development.


Amyloid beta proteins can clump together and form the basis of plaques. These plaques are commonly found in the brains of people with dementia and are suggested to reduce brain performance. Recent research suggests that smaller clumps of amyloid beta known as oligomers may actually be more toxic than the plaques. Researchers continue to study many aspects of the amyloid beta protein to establish its role in dementia, including the mechanisms of plaque formation, and how plaques might be removed from the brain.


Amyloid precursor protein (APP) is a large protein in many of the bodies cells (not just brain cells). It is relatively unknown as to its main function but when enzymes in the body slice it, it makes the amyloid beta protein, which is commonly found in large amounts in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

ASSOCIATIVE MEMORY search for term

Associative memory is defined as the ability to learn and remember the relationship between unrelated items such as the name of someone we have just met or the aroma of a particular perfume.


Simply referred to as a hearing test, it provides an evaluation of the sensitivity of a person's sense of hearing and is most often performed by an audiologist using an audiometer.


BACTERIA search for term

Single celled organisms with properties that distinguish them from eukaryotic cells (or cells with a nucleus). Bacteria have a cell wall (animal cells have just a membrane) and do not keep their DNA in a separate cell nucleus (unlike plant cells). They mostly reproduce by mitosis, or duplicating genetic material and internal components to produce two ‘daughter’ cells. There are millions of unique species of bacteria, that all have different properties. Bacteria can share genes with each other – without having to undergo mitosis, which is how antibiotic resistance genes can quickly spread. Bacteria can be beneficial, harmful or neutral in their interactions with humans and other animals. Did you know there are more bacterial cells in your body than human cells?

BENZODIAZEPINES search for term

A class of psychoactive medication which can be used as a sedative, a hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and/ or a relaxant. The drug is mainly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, or agitation but can also be used for seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and as a preoperative medication for medical or dental procedures.

BIOMARKERS search for term

Biomarkers or biological markers can indicate the presence of Alzheimer's disease, even before symptoms become evident. Researchers have identified several possible biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Levels of amyloid beta and tau proteins in the CSF are already being used to aid diagnosis in some parts of the world. Markers of inflammation and other brain changes associated with dementia can also be detected in the CSF and might be used alone or in combination with amyloid beta levels to help clarify diagnosis. Obtaining CSF requires a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, which involves inserting a needle into the spinal column. While this is a safe procedure, a simple blood test would be less invasive, so researchers are also investigating similar biomarkers of dementia in the blood. Unfortunately, to date blood biomarkers have not proven to be as stable or accurate as those measured in the CSF, but research is continuing.

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE search for term

Focused on understanding the physical aspects of living organisms in both health and disease. This includes genetics, biochemistry, cells, development, pathology, anatomy and more.

BLIND TRIAL search for term

A type of clinical trial in which participants are not told which medication or treatment they are receiving. This is to prevent the results being affected by people's expectations of the medication or treatment.


Promotes development of new brain cells and the connection between brain cells that allow learning and memory. It also helps prolong survival of brain cells.


CELL search for term

The cell is the basic structural, functional and biological unit of all known living organisms. They are often referred to as the "building blocks of life."


Referred to as CACE-Is, they are a group of drugs used for blood pressure control. Examples include perindropril, rampril, trandolapril and many others. They specifically target the renin angiotensis system, which regulates blood pressure and fluid balance in the body. If this system becomes overactive - high blood pressure results.

CEREBRAL CORTEX search for term

The outermost layered structure of neural tissue of the brain.


The liquid which surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

CHAPERONE PROTEIN search for term

Molecular chaperones are proteins that assist the non-covalent folding or unfolding of macromolecular structures. They guide newly synthesised polypeptides into their functional three-dimensional shape. In times of stress, many proteins can denature and fold but many chaperone proteins (such as heat shock proteins) can help prevent this from happening.



Cholinesterase inhibitors increase the level of a brain chemical called acetylcholine. People with Alzheimer's disease and related conditions have decreased brain levels of this neurotransmitter. Increasing the amount of acetylcholine appears to slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer's disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors do not work for everyone with Alzheimer's disease and many scientific studies have shown the benefits of taking these drugs are small.

CHROMOSOME search for term

A chromosome is an organised structure of DNA, protein, and RNA found in cells. They vary widely between organisms. In humans chromosomes are commonly referred to as X and Y.


A form of brain damage which can only be definiteively diagnosed post mortem. It is common in individuals who have had a history of concussions or other forms of head injury. Symptoms are very similar to dementia – including, memory loss, aggression, confusion, depression and they can occur years or even decades after the head trauma has occurred.


Classical conditioning is a kind of learning that occurs when a conditioned stimulus is paired with an unconditioned stimulus. Pavlov's dog theory is the best example of clasical conditioning


This test evaluates six categories of functioning including: memory, orientation, judgement and problem solving, home and hobbies, community affairs and personal care. The CDR produces scores that rate the severity of dementia symptoms from 0-18. A score of zero meaning signs of dementia.

CLINICAL TRIAL search for term

Tests the safety and effectiveness of a new drug or treatment.

COCHRANE REVIEW search for term

A systematic review of clinical health research undertaken under the auspices of the international Cochrane Collaboration. A Cochrane review requires all relevant published primary research (i.e. studies that have collected data on specific interventions) to be collected, collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence to support specific treatments or interventions. Because of this rigorous review process, Cochrane reviews are recognised as the highest standard of evidence available for many clinical and policy related health areas.

COGNITIVE TRAINING search for term

Exercise for your brain. Usually in the form of tests, quizzes or games. It can help highlight which areas of your brain work better or help those who might need brain rehabilitation.

COOK MEDLEY SCALE search for term

The Cook Medley scale tests for physical disorders, psychological dysfunction, and problems in interpersonal relationships. It measures subsets such as Cynicism, Hostile Attributions, Hostile Affect, Aggressive Responding, Social Avoidance, and Other. 


 CBS is a rare form of dementia which can display motor symptoms similar to those found in Parkinson disease, such as:

  • Akinesia/bradykinesia – an absence or slowness of movements; lack of spontaneous movements
  • Rigidity -a resistance to imposed movement
  • Tremor, often complex
  • Limb dystonia – abnormal posture of the extremities
  • These cognitive symptoms may be associated with CBD (though not all are seen in all patients):
  • Alien hand syndrome in which the patient does not recognize the actions of his hand and can’t control movement of the hand or arm;
  • Apraxia – the loss of the ability to make familiar, purposeful movements, manifested as difficulty using familiar objects or doing familiar things. Examples include using utensils, combing one’s hair, and dressing;
  • Acalculia – difficulty carrying out simple calculations, such as adding and subtracting.
  • Visual-spatial impairment – an individual with corticobasal degeneration may have difficulty orienting objects in space.



Dementia with Lewy bodies is characterised by the presence of abnormal spherical structures, called Lewy bodies, which develop inside nerve cells in the brain. Lewy bodies are accumulations of a protein called alpha-synuclein. It is thought that these contribute to the degeneration and death of nerve cells. Dementia with Lewy bodies sometimes co-occurs with Alzheimer’s disease and/or vascular dementia. It may also be hard to distinguish dementia with Lewy bodies from Parkinson’s disease, which is also associated with Lewy bodies, and some people who have Parkinson’s disease develop a similar dementia. At present there is no known cause of dementia with Lewy bodies and no risk factors have been identified. In very rare cases, the disease appears to be inherited, but a genetic cause has not yet been found. In short, we do not know why Lewy bodies form in the brain and research continues in the attempt to find an answer. Much of this research is focussed on searching for the genetic roots of dementia with Lewy bodies, exploring the mechanisms of alpha-synuclein accumulation, and discovering how Lewy bodies cause the particular symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies.

DNA search for term

Chemical that is structured to hold information. DNA is the blueprint for life, in much the same way a binary code is the blueprint for a computer program. DNA contains four components known as bases or nucleotides. The bases are either A, T, G or C. The bases pair in a specific way (AT and GC), which allows DNA to form a double helix. The order of these ‘DNA letters’ are what make up the DNA code. The order of these DNA letters is the code for genes. In animal cells, DNA is arranged in structures called chromosomes to compact neatly into the cell nucleus – the information vault of a cell. (Tags: DNA, DNA letter, base, nucleotide, genetic code, DNA code, genome, nucleus, chormosome).

DNA MARKER search for term

A DNA marker is a single variation in the DNA code and is commonly found in the genome. A DNA maker is a single letter of the DNA code, and therefore is linked to the surrounding DNA over thousands of DNA letters. In this way a single DNA marker can act like a tag to represent thousands of DNA letters, making the genome much easier to study.


E-HEALTH search for term

Defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘the combined use of electronic communication and information technology in the health sector.’ It includes the health care that is delivered, enabled or supported by the use of Information and Communications Technology. e-Health may involve clinical communications between healthcare providers such as online referrals, electronic prescribing and sharing of electronic health records

E-HEALTH TOOLS search for term

Electronic processes or forms of communication used by health care practices.


A type of microscope that used an electron beam to illuminate a specimen and produce the magnified image.

ENTORHINAL CORTEX search for term

An area of the brain which functions as a hub in a widespread network for memory and navigation.


Episodic or implicit memory is the memory of an event or ‘episode’. This type of memory is a collection of past personal experiences that occurred at a particular time and place (both recently and from the past). Examples of episodic memory include: the ability to recount what you did today, where you were when you heard shocking news, or remembering where you parked your car.

EXCITOTOXICITIY search for term

Excitotoxicity is where the synapses are overwhelmed with neurotransmitter, leading to death of over-excited brain cells. Excitotoxicity is a feature of several neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease and can occur after brain injuries such as stroke.



Familial Alzheimer's disease has a clear pattern of family inheritance and is very rare - accounting for perhaps 5% of all cases. Symptoms usually begin in the 30s, 40s, or 50s. There are currently three genes that have been linked to familial Alzheimer's disease, but it is possible that more genes will be identified. The three genes linked to familial Alzheimer's disease are Presenilin 1 (PSEN1), Presenilin 2 (PSEN2), and the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) gene. These genes act to influence protein processing in the brain and the mutations that cause Alzheimer’s disease cause abnormal proteins to be formed.


The co-ordination of small muscle movements which occur in body parts such as the fingers and usually in coordination with the eyes. Motor skills include walking, running, crawling and swimming for example.


Frontotemporal dementia is the name given to a group of dementias when there is degeneration in one or both of the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain. The behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia involves the frontal lobes and includes Pick’s disease. The language variant involves the temporal lobes and includes Progressive non-fluent aphasia and Semantic dementia. The majority of cases of frontotemporal dementia are sporadic, with no strong family history, and their cause is unknown. A number of different underlying cellular brain changes can be associated with frontotemporal dementia. Research is continuing to attempt to discover how these changes arise and lear more about their relationship with the clinical syndromes of frontotemporal dementia.


GENE THERAPY search for term

Gene therapy has been promoted as a promising technique for many different conditions. A very small trial of gene therapy for Alzheimer’s disease has shown beneficial effects - slowing the progression of the disease by about 50%. In this trial, genetically modified cells were injected directly into the brain. The cells were modified to produce nerve growth factor, a natural substance that helps brain cells to grow, survive and repair damage. Although the study is very preliminary, it indicates that gene therapy may provide beneficial treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

GENES search for term

A gene can be thought of as a blueprint for how to build a protein. The blueprint, or gene, can also contain an instruction manual for how to read and use the blueprint under certain conditions. This is how a cell knows when to adjust protein production, turning a gene ‘on’ or ‘off’ when needed. For example, the instruction manual for your eye colour gene may say ‘don’t use in toenails’ or ‘use in eyes only’. There is still much we don't know about the role of genes in Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, but researchers continue to study this area.

GENOME search for term

The entirety of an organisms hereditary information encoded with DNA and RNA.


This extract is native to china. Extracts of gingko leaves (such as Egb761R) are believed to have antioxidant properties, potentially helping increase brain blood flow and function. They are marketed as enhances of memory and concentration. Clinical trials of gingko's efficacy as a cognitive enhancer have produced inconsistent findings. page 15

GLYCOTOXINS search for term

Glycotoxins are formed when sugars are cooked with proteins or fats. Temperatures over 120°C (~248°F) greatly accelerate the reaction, but lower temperatures with longer cooking times also promote their formation. Essentially the browning (even blackening) which occurs when food is cooked is the process of glycation.

GLYMPHATIC SYSTEM search for term

A specialised clearance system that removes waste and other by-products from the central nervous system. This is separate to the lymphatic system which is made of lymphatic vessels and is responsible for cleansing the waste products from other organs of the body.


HIPPOCAMPUS search for term

The brains memory centre and plays a major role in both short term and long term memory retention.

HISTOLOGY search for term

Study of diseased tissue at the microscopic level. It is a discipline that is strongly associated with pathology, as it can form part of the diagnosis process.

HUMAN GENOME search for term

The human genome can be thought of as a four letter code that contains the instructions to build a person. A person is coded by over 3 billion letters –an encyclopaedia with more than 100 books, each more than 1000 pages long! Everyone (apart from identical twins), has a unique code that can be divided into larger units called genes. Genes are the instructions to build the specific proteins we are made of, and surrounding the genes is additional DNA code that determines how much of each protein to build. The variation in our genetic code gives us variety in how we look, how we fight disease and what diseases we are more likely to contract.

HYPOTHESIS search for term

Making an assumption of what the answer to your research question will be. Essentially an educated guess.


IMMUNOGLOBULIN search for term

Immunoglobulin is another way of saying antibodies. There are specific types of immunoglobulins (antibodies) such as IgA, IgG and IgM which all play specific roles in stimulating an immune response.

IMMUNOLOGY search for term

The study of the immune system. This includes how the different cells of the immune system function, how our bodies fight disease, vaccination and autoimmune responses.

IMMUNOTHERAPY search for term

Immunotherapy is a medical term defined as the treatment of a disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response. Recieving a vaccination is a form of an immunotherapy.

IN VITRO search for term

Refers to a study which was undertaken on live cells but outside the body. So for example, cells which are cultured in test tubes.

IN VIVO search for term

Refers to a study performed directly on animals. So for example, mice were give a drug and their effects monitored.

INFLAMMATION search for term

Inflammation is the body’s attempt at protection against infection, disease and tissue damage, and an important part of the immune response. While usually beneficial, it can become harmful if excessive inflammation occurs. People with Alzheimer’s disease have high levels of brain inflammation and there is some evidence that this could contribute to the disease. Some evidence suggests that beta-amyloid plaques attract immune cells, leading to a build up of inflammatory factors at the site of plaques, but it is not known whether this is beneficial or harmful.


The process of developing and improving your intellectual abilities through learning new skills and hobbies


KLOTHO GENE search for term

Klotho is a transmembrane protein that, in addition to other effects, provides some control over the sensitivity of the organism to insulin and appears to be involved in ageing. Transgenic mice that overexpress Klotho have been shown to live longer and perform better on memory tests than wild-type mice.


LIRAGLUTIDE search for term

An injectable drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes. It stimulates insulin production in diabetics. Research also shows it can also pass through the blood brain barrier and have a protective effect on brain cells.

LONG TERM DEPRESSION search for term

Activity-dependent reduction in the efficacy of neuronal synapses lasting hours or longer following a long patterned stimulus. Using this method is said to weaken the connectivity between synapses and potentially remove memories.


Long-lasting enhancement in signal transmission between two neurons that results from stimulating them synchronously. Using this method is said to strengthen the connectivity between synapses and potentially restore memories.


MEDICAL FOOD search for term

Foods that are specially formulated and intended for the dietary management of a disease that has distinctive nutritional needs that cannot be met by normal diet alone. They are not considered a drug and you should always consult your doctor before adding any medical food into your regular dietary intake.

MICRO RNA (MiRNA) search for term

MicroRNA (or MiRNA) are non-coding RNA species of 22 nucelotides that are transcribed in all tissues and cells. The expression of miRNA in extracellular environments such as blood, can reflect the physiological state of other biological systems (like the brain).


The onset of brain function impairment beyond those expected, based on the age and education of the individual, but which are not significant enough to interfere with daily activities.

MITOCHONDRIA search for term

Convert energy into forms that are usable by the cell, giving them power.

MITOSIS search for term

The process by which a cell, which has previously replicated each of its chromosomes, separates the chromosomes in its cell nucleus into two identical sets of chromosomes, each set in its own new nucleus.

MMSE TEST search for term

A brief 30-point questionnaire test that is used to screen for cognitive impairment and dementia. Question topics include arithmetic, memory and orientation.

MOLECULAR BIOLOGY search for term

Study of the processes inside cells. This includes DNA, the role of genes as well as proteins and how they function. It is a fundamental biological science to understanding how the human body works.

MOTOR CORTEX search for term

The motor cortex is the region of the brain involved in the planning, control, and execution of voluntary movements.

MRI SCAN search for term

MRI is able to image the structure of the brain, which changes in dementia, to a very high resolution. For example, a characteristic sign of Alzheimer’s disease is atrophy (shrinking) of a brain region called the hippocampus. This can easily be seen on an MRI scan and is currently used to aid diagnosis. International teams of researchers are working on standardising the scanning and analysis techniques used in MRI and establishing databases of scans of people with dementia. It is hoped this research will eventually enable an individual’s scan taken anywhere in the world to be compared with those in the database to determine whether it is normal or suggests the presence of Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. New MRI methods are being used to image the white matter (nerve fibres) of the brain. The use of these in dementia research is in early stages, but may lead to the identification of characteristic patterns of white matter change that indicate different types of dementia and can be used in diagnosis. One large Australian research study currently using PiB-PET and MRI is the Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing (AIBL), a longitudinal study of ageing comprised of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and healthy volunteers. For more information visit the AIBL website.

MUTATION search for term

Describes a change to the DNA code from the ‘normal’ or reference code with a known affect. A mutation could be a change in a single DNA letter, or a deletion or duplication of several DNA letters. A mutation may be harmful and lead to disease in an organism, can be beneficial or could be neutral. A harmful mutation is a mutation in PSEN1, which causes younger onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. A beneficial mutation is in the LCT gene, which allows people to digest lactose in milk. Neutral mutations in the OCA2 and HERC2 genes result in colour variation in the human eye. (Tags: mutation, reference code, reference genome, DNA variation, genetic disease).


NAD+ search for term

The cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) has emerged as a key regulator of metabolism, stress resistance and longevity.


Is the umbrella term for the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons, including the death of neurons.

NEUROGENESIS search for term

Essentially the oppostion of neurodegernation, which is the birth of new neurons.

NEUROIMAGING search for term

Neuroimaging describes a range of tools which are used to visualise the living brain, including computerised tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), single photon emission computerised tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET). Researchers are working on new ways of using neuroimaging tools to diagnose Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

NEURON search for term

Transmits information via the brain through electrical and chemical signals.

NEUROPLASTICITY search for term

Also known as brain plasticity, neuroplasticity is an term that refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which change due to behaviour, environment and neural processes, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.


Memory and other thinking tests are very important tools in the diagnosis process. However, current tests can be difficult to administer and interpret, and can show bias with respect to cultural background and education level. Researchers are developing a variety of improved tests with better accuracy and specificity. For example, specialised tests are being developed and implemented to assist General Practitioners in the diagnosis process (e.g. the General Practitioner assessment of Cognition, or GPCOG), as well as tests targeted to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) populations and Indigenous communities (e.g. the Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale or RUDAS, and the Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment or KICA). Researchers are also developing batteries of neuropsychological tests sensitive to very early changes in cognitive function. As with biomarker and neuroimaging research, this aims to establish easily administered tests that can detect the presence of Alzheimer’s disease or other diseases causing dementia before symptoms of dementia are evident. The advantage of neuropsychological testing over biomarkers and imaging is that it is non-invasive and low cost. Researchers have had some success in detecting subtle cognitive decline using short batteries of computerised tests that may in future be made available online. It may turn out that a combination of biomarker, imaging and cognitive tests will be used to more accurately diagnose different types of dementia at preclinical stages, allowing early treatment and ultimately prevention of dementia when effective therapies are developed.

NEUROTRANSMITTER search for term

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals across a synapse from one neuron to another 'target' neuron.


Medical condition or disease, which by definition is non-infectious and non-transmissible among people. Examples include cancer, diabetes and dementia.

NUFFACE TEST search for term

The Northwestern University Face Test includes 20 images of black and white printed images of famous faces based on the following criteria: popularity and celebrity status of each person in visual media, race and sex and time era in which person was famous



Requires participants to remember two brief stories that are read aloud to them. Each story consists of 25 ideas and the number of ideas correctly recalled are scored for a possible total of 50 points. Participants are asked questions immediately after each story is read and again 30 minutes later.

OXIDATIVE STRESS search for term

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralisation by antioxidants. Oxidative stress can lead to brain inflammation and result in neurodegeneration occuring.


PARIETAL CORTEX search for term

The parietal cortex (or lobe) plays an important role in integrating sensory information from various parts of the body, knowledge of numbers and their relations and in the manipulation of objects. Its function also includes processing information relating to the sense of touch. Portions of the parietal cortex are involved with visuospatial processing.

PATHOLOGY search for term

Study of disease to inform diagnosis. Pathology encompasses understanding the cause of disease, the changes the disease makes to organs, tissues, cells or DNA, and finally how these changes result in symptoms.

PET SCAN search for term

In 2004, researchers successfully viewed beta-amyloid plaque deposits in the living human brain. The study used Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB), a substance which binds to amyloid and can be visualised with PET scanning. The results demonstrated that people with Alzheimer's disease displayed more amyloid deposits in certain brain areas compared to people without the condition. More recent research has shown that PiB-PET can also detect the early brain changes of Alzheimer's disease before symptoms become apparent. While PiB has proved quite effective, its widespread clinical use may be limited by the need for specialised equipment to produce PiB at the site of the PET scanner. Researchers are currently developing and testing other compounds that bind to beta-amyloid and may overcome the limitations of PiB. Glucose metabolism in the brain is altered in dementia and these changes can be visualised using another form of PET imaging called FDG-PET. Different patterns of reduced glucose metabolism can be suggestive of different types of dementia and so FDG-PET is sometimes used as an aid to diagnosis. Recent research also suggests that FDG-PET can detect early brain changes before the emergence of dementia symptoms and predict progression to dementia. Research is continuing to further refine this procedure for dementia diagnosis. Another type of PET scan uses compounds that bind to acetylcholine to detect brain changes due to Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger in the brain, that is involved in memory function. Detecting reduced acetylcholine activity in the memory areas of the brain may aid diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

PHASE 1 CLINICAL TRIALS search for term

Phase One clinical trials are concerned with the safety of the medication, and usually involve a small group of healthy patients to ensure that there are no immediate ill effects

PHASE 2 CLINICAL TRIALS search for term

Phase Two clinical trials involve people with the disease that is being targeted and are intended to provide an initial assessment of both safety and efficacy (i.e., whether the medicine works as intended). Phase Two trials generally involve only a small number of people who are closely supervised. Phase Two trials may or may not include a control group (i.e., people who take a placebo medicine, for purposes of comparison)

PHASE 3 CLINICAL TRIALS search for term

Phase Three clinical trails are much larger scale studies of people with the disease, usually conducted as Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs; in which participants will randomly be assigned to receive either the experimental drug or a placebo, without knowing which until the end of the study). Phase Three trials are often undertaken across multiple centres and multiple countries (sometimes up to 200 study centres, each involving a small number of participants). Phase Three trials must show that the medicines are safe, and that people taking the medicine have significantly better outcomes than those taking the placebos.

PIRACETAM search for term

A prescription medicine that stimulates the central nervous system, and may improve learning and memory, concentration and even creativity. It appears to increase communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.

PLASTICITY search for term

Refers to changes in nerve cells in the brain which can make stronger connections in response to new activity. People with dementia are often said to lose brain plasticity.

POLYPHENOLS search for term

A polyphenol is a type of antioxidant found in a number of distinct species, such as cocoa, grapes, tea and coffee. They are suggested to affect cell-to-cell signaling, receptor sensitivity, inflammatory enzyme activity or gene regulation.


Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) is a progressive degenerative condition involving the loss and dysfunction of brain cells particularly at the back (posterior) of the brain. In the vast majority of cases, this loss of brain cells is associated with the same pathological brain changes seen in typical Alzheimer’s disease, namely amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. In other words, posterior cortical atrophy is most usually considered to be an unusual or atypical variant of Alzheimer’s disease.


PRE-DEMENTIA search for term

General term which refers to people without any symptoms of memory loss, but positive biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a positive brain scan image or protein markers in spinal fluid.


Syndome characterised by progressive language difficulties and associated wtih brain fucntion loss in areas important for work and object representations.

PRION search for term

Infection misfolded protein (the term prion is a combination of 'protein' and 'infection'). Prions can cause other proteins to fold incorrectly in a way that creates additional prions. In some cases, this process can lead to degenerative diseases such as dementia. Well-known prion diseases include mad cow disease and, in humans, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

PROTEIN search for term

Proteins are the essential building blocks of life - forming cells, organs, and enzymes which help the body to function. Once they are made, proteins can be folded into different structures and shapes to fulfil their many functions.


QMCI TEST search for term

Known as a Quick mild cognitive impairment screening test it has been found to be more sensitive and specific for differentiating between mild cognitive impairment from normal cognition and dementia.



A type of clinical trial where neither the participants nor the researchers know who is being treated with the active drug. Some participants are treated with a placebo, which is a pill with no medical effects.

RANDOMISED TRIAL search for term

A type of clinical trial, used to compare two different types of medication or treatment, where, participants are divided into two or more groups, and receive different medications or treatments.

RE1-Silencing Transcription factor (REST) search for term

The REST brain protein that has been found to repress genes that promote cell death and Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and induces the expression of stress response genes. REST potently protects neurons from oxidative stress and amyloid beta-protein toxicity.


Reactive astrocytes are the main cellular component of a glial scar. Glial scars form within the brain after trauma to the central nervous system and aim heal the damage occured.


Is a memory test which includes 14 subtests assessing aspects of visual, verbal, recall, recognition, immediate and delayed everyday memory. Additionally, prospective memory skills and the ability to learn new information are measured.

RNA search for term

Chemical, similar to DNA, and is structured to hold information. RNA is often a ‘photocopy’ of a region of DNA that contains a gene. The RNA copy is single stranded (DNA is double stranded and makes a helix) and has several roles. The first role is DNA protection. RNA that contains a message to build a protein is exported from the cell nucleus (the information vault of the cell) to the cytoplasm (where proteins are made and perform chemical reactions). This exportation process protects DNA from the chemical reactions occurring outside the nucleus to preserve the original information. Once in the cytoplasm, the messenger RNA (mRNA) is translated by cell proteins to build a new protein. RNA may also influence how genes are expressed i.e. how much, when and where should a protein be produced from a gene, or be directly involved in the building of proteins (tRNAs).


SENSORY THERAPIES search for term

Uses stimulation of the different senses such as touch, smell, hearing and sight to promote wellbeing and reduce stress and anxiety in people with dementia. Sensory therapies include art therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy and touch therapy as well as snoezelen therapy.

SIRTUIN-1 search for term

Sirtuin-1 is a member of a family proteins known as sirtuins. While the full function of sirtuin 1 is not known in humans, it is thought in experimental studies done in yeast, mice and rats that when activiated it might be able to extend life. Sometimes sirtuins are referred to as the 'life extension gene'.

SNOEZELEN ROOMS search for term

Multi-sensory environments containing different lighting effects, touchable surfaces, music and aromas to stimulate various senses. Snoezelen may have short term effects in promoting positive mood and reducing anxiety, although little research has been undertaken to fully document the approach.

SOUVENAID search for term

A type of medical food that nutritionally supports memory function as part of the dietary management of the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Souvenaid® is intended to be used under medical supervision – see

STEM CELL search for term

A type of cell that can differentiate into specialised cells and divide to produce more stem cells. They are commonly used in research to grow artificial tissues.


Subjective Memory Impairment (SMI) is the self-reported perception of memory or cognition problems and is a potentially valid early clinical marker of brain and cognitive changes that may indicate Alzheimer's disease.

SYNAPSE search for term

Structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell.


TAU PROTEIN search for term

Tau is a protein which normally helps to maintain the structure of brain cells by strengthening the internal scaffolding of the cell (known as microtubules). In the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease, tau proteins don't function properly and instead form protein tangles inside the cell. This leads to a breakdown in the brain cell's ability to communicate with other brain cells and eventually to cell death.

TEMPORAL LOBE search for term

A region of the cerebral cortex which facilitates the retention of visual memories, facial recognition, sensory input processing, language comprehension, new memory storage, and emotions.

The Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination-III (ACE-III) search for term

The Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination-III (ACE-III) is a brief cognitivetest that assesses five cognitive domains:attention, memory, verbal fluency,language and visuospatial abilities. The ACE-IIIreplaces the previous Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination-Revised (ACE-R) and was developed at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA; The total score is 100 withhigher scores indicating better cognitive functioning.Administration of the ACE-III takes, on average,15 minutes and scoring takes about 5 minutes.


Published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is both a classification system and guide into all known mental disorders of children and adults. It encompasses statistics (gender, age of onset, prognosis), potential causes and evidence-based research into treatment options. It is used by clinicians to guide their diagnoses and is used by others such as pharmaceutical companies, policy makers and insurance companies to inform their decisions about the needs of consumers. It is often referred to as the ‘bible’ for the fields of psychology and psychiatry. DSM-IV is the current version of the manual, which was first developed in 1952. DSM-IV has been in use since 1994, with some revisions conducted in 2000. Essentially, the manual has not been updated until 2013, with the current version called DSM-V.


A method used to study the brain’s function and interconnections using electromagnetic induction.

TYPE 1 INTERFRON search for term

Type 1 interferon is a protein produced by white blood cells as one of the first steps in an immune response. This protein acts as an alert signal to other immune cells to come and destroy a foreign body, bacteria, virus or damaged cell. For example, if you prick your finger, swelling at the site occurs. This is because white blood cells have released Type 1 interferon and have told immune cells to come to the site and kill any bacteria and viruses they find, to prevent infection.


VASCULAR DEMENTIA search for term

Vascular dementia is the second most commonly diagnosed type of dementia, and may account for 15 - 20% of all cases. Vascular dementia is caused by chronic reduced blood flow to the brain, usually as a result of a stroke or series of strokes. It can often coexist with Alzheimer's disease. Stroke, small vessel disease, or a mixture of the two can cause vascular dementia. Most commonly there is a blockage of small blood vessels somewhere in the network of arteries that feeds the brain. Blockages may be caused by plaque build up on the inside of the artery wall, or by blood clots which have broken loose. Clots can form as a result of abnormal heart rhythms, or other heart abnormalities. Also, a weak patch on an artery wall can balloon outward and form an aneurysm, which can burst and deprive brain cells of oxygen. It is estimated that about 50% of cases of vascular dementia result from high blood pressure, which can lead to a major stroke or a series of strokes and a build up of brain damage over time. Less common causes of vascular dementia are associated with autoimmune inflammatory diseases of the arteries such as lupus and temporal arteritis, which are treatable with drugs that suppress the immune system.

VILIP-1 search for term

Visinin-like protein 1 is a calcium-binding protein that gets released into cerebrospinal fluid from injured neurons and is why it can be used a potential marker for Alzheimer's disease.

VIRUS search for term

Infectious biological particle that contains either DNA or RNA in a protein case. A virus cannot reproduce without a living host as it has a very limited set of genes. Viruses can infect any living organism, including bacteria, but are usually restricted to specific host species. In additional to causing colds and flu’s, viruses may cause cancer if they disrupt the host’s genome. A retrovirus has genes that code for an enzyme that copies viral RNA into the host genome. Genetically modified retroviruses can be used in research as tools to create specific genetic changes in cells growing in a dish.


Allows us to perceive objects and the spatial relationships among objects. For example, the ability to recognise shapes, retrace steps and how far away an object is.



Hyperintensities refer to areas of high intensity on particular types of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the human brain. When a persons MRI brain scan has lots of 'white matter' it is suggested that they are more likely to have cognitive deficits.


YEAST search for term

Single eukaryotic (nucleated) cells. Yeast have similar cell properties to humans and other multicellular animals. They are used extensively in basic research to understand the fundamentals of cell biology. Sir Paul Nurse received a Nobel Prize in 2001 for his work in yeast that identified how cells replicate during mitosis. His work informs the basis for modern cell biology and cancer research.


The term younger onset dementia is usually used to describe any form of dementia diagnosed in people under the age of 65. Dementia has been diagnosed in people in their 50’s, 40’s and even in their 30’s. Dementia in younger people is much less common than dementia occurring after the age of 65.