Cerebral atrophy is a common feature of many of the diseases that affect the brain. Atrophy of any tissue means loss of cells. In brain tissue, atrophy describes a loss of neurons and the connections between them. Atrophy can be generalized, which means that all of the brain has shrunk; or it can be focal, affecting only a limited area of the brain and resulting in a decrease of the functions that area of the brain controls. If the cerebral hemispheres (the two lobes of the brain that form the cerebrum) are affected, conscious thought and voluntary processes may be impaired.
Associated Diseases/Disorders: The pattern and rate of progression of cerebral atrophy depends on the disease involved. Diseases that cause cerebral atrophy include:
Symptoms of cerebral atrophy: Many diseases that cause cerebral atrophy are associated with dementia, seizures, and a group of language disorders called the aphasias.
The NINDS funds research looking at many of the diseases and disorders that cause cerebral atrophy. Understanding the biological mechanisms that cause neurons to die in the brain will help researchers find ways to prevent, treat, and even cure the diseases that lead to cerebral atrophy.
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Last Modified January 13, 2009