Understanding Alzheimer's disease as a disorder of consciousness

Alzheimer's & dementia (New York, N. Y.)

Alzheimers Dement (N Y). 2021 Nov 29;7(1):e12203. doi: 10.1002/trc2.12203. eCollection 2021.


People with Alzheimer's disease (AD) demonstrate a range of alterations in consciousness. Changes in awareness of cognitive deficit, self-awareness, and introspection are seen early in AD, and dysfunction of awareness and arousal progresses with increasing disease severity. However, heterogeneity of deficits between individuals and a lack of empirical studies in people with severe dementia highlight the importance of identifying and applying biomarkers of awareness in AD. Impairments of awareness in AD are associated with neuropathology in regions that overlap with proposed neural correlates of consciousness. Recent developments in consciousness science provide theoretical frameworks and experimental approaches to help further understand the conscious experience of people with AD. Recognition of AD as a disorder of consciousness is overdue, and important to both understand the lived experience of people with AD and to improve care.

PMID:34877398 | PMC:PMC8630359 | DOI:10.1002/trc2.12203