Lewy bodies are round collections of proteins in the brain that are considered the pathological hallmark of Parkinson's disease. Lewy bodies are never found in healthy normal brains. In Parkinson's disease the Lewy bodies are largely localized to an area of the brain stem called the substantia nigra. In DLB, Lewy bodies are also found in brain's cortex.
Although DLB accounts for as much as 20 to 35 percent of the dementia seen in the United States, treatment and diagnosis is often complicated by a lack of information about the disease. In the study, Dr. Ferman and colleagues examined episodes of fluctuation in cognition (problems in thinking or concentration) experienced by individuals with AD or DLB or normal older adults who had no signs of dementia.
"Fluctuating cognition is an important symptom of DLB but has been the center of some controversy because it is comprised of a number of behaviors, some common to all dementias and perhaps even found in normal aging," said Dr. Ferman, assistant professor and clinical neuropsychologist in the department of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. "Even though attempts have been made to carefully describe these behaviors, they have not been used reliably as diagnostic tools." Dr. Ferman spoke today at an American Medical Association media briefing on Alzheimer's disease in New York City.
Some of the common behaviors of DLB that comprise fluctuating cognition include episodes of confusion, excessive sleepiness, a waxing and waning of cognition, inattention, incoherent speech and va
Contact: Erik Kaldor
American Medical Association