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Glossary of Alzheimer's Disease Terms

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Medicaid: A program sponsored by the federal government and administered by states that is intended to provide health care and health-related services to low-income individuals.

Medicare: A federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older and for individuals with disabilities.

Metabolism: The complex chemical and physical processes of living organisms that promote growth, sustain life, and enable other bodily functions to take place.

Mini-Mental State Examination: A standard mental status exam routinely used to measure a person's basic cognitive skills, such as short-term memory, long-term memory, orientation, writing, and language.

MRI: See magnetic resonance imaging.

Multi-infarct dementia (MID): A form of dementia, also known as vascular dementia, caused by a number of strokes in the brain. These strokes can affect some intellectual abilities, impair movement and walking skills, and cause an individual to experience hallucinations, delusions, or depression. The onset of MID is usually abrupt and often progresses in a stepwise fashion. Individuals with MID are likely to have risk factors for strokes, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. MID cannot be treated; once nerve cells die, they cannot be replaced. However, risk factors can be treated, which may help prevent further damage.

Music therapy: Use of music to improve physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functioning.

Nerve cell (neuron): The basic working unit of the nervous system. Nerve cells send signals that control the actions of other cells in the body, such as other nerve cells and muscle cells.

Nerve cell transplantation: An experimental procedure in which normal brain cells are implanted into diseased areas of the brain to replace dying or damaged cells.

Nerve growth factor (NGF): A protein that promotes nerve cell growth and may protect some types of nerve cells from damage.

Neuritic plaque: See amyloid plaque.

Neurodegenerative disease: A type of neurological disorder marked by the loss of nerve cells. (See Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.)

Neurofibrillary tangle: An accumulation of twisted protein fragments inside nerve cells. Neurofibrillary tangles are one of the characteristic structural abnormalities found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles discovered at autopsy is used to positively diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

Neurological disorder: A disturbance in structure or function of the nervous system resulting from developmental abnormality, disease, injury, or toxin.

Neurologist: A doctor who is specially trained to diagnose and treat disorders of the nervous system.

Neuron: See nerve cell.

Neuropathology: Changes in the brain produced by a disease.

Neuropsychological testing: The evaluation of brain function and an individual's capabilities that uses tests to assess language, visual-perceptual skills, memory, attention, problem-solving, and reasoning.

Neuropsychologist: An individual who holds a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) in clinical psychology or a related discipline and who specializes in the evaluation and management of brain dysfunction.

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