Lisa Genova is an American neuroscientist and author. She self-published her debut novel Still Alice, about a Harvard University professor who suffers early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Lisa Genova – TRANSCRIPT
How many people here would like to live to be at least 80 years old? Yeah. I think we all have this hopeful expectation of living into old age.
Let’s project out into the future, to your future “you’s,” and let’s imagine that we’re all 85.
Now, everyone look at two people. One of you probably has Alzheimer’s disease. All right, all right. And maybe you’re thinking, “Well, it won’t be me.”
Then, OK. You are a caregiver. So — so in some way, this terrifying disease is likely to affect us all. Part of the fear around Alzheimer’s stems from the sense that there’s nothing we can do about it. Despite decades of research, we still have no disease-modifying treatment and no cure.
So if we’re lucky enough to live long enough, Alzheimer’s appears to be our brain’s destiny. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. What if I told you we could change these statistics, literally change our brain’s destiny, without relying on a cure or advancements in medicine?
Let’s begin by looking at what we currently understand about the neuroscience of Alzheimer’s. Here’s a picture of two neurons connecting. The point of connection, this space circled in red, is called the synapse.
The synapse is where neurotransmitters are released. This is where signals are transmitted, where communication happens. This is where we think, feel, see, hear, desire and remember. And the synapse is where Alzheimer’s happens.