Evo-Neuro

2013_03_EvoneuroAlzheimer’s disease is more and more breaking in our society, with devastating effects in the life of an increasing number of persons. Many factors underlying this neural degeneration are still unknown. We have tried to integrate biomedical and evolutionary evidence, in a recent hypothesis published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The fossil record suggests that our species is characterized by spatial changes at deep parietal areas like the intraparietal sulcus or the precuneus. These areas are relevant for visuo-spatial integration, memory, eye-hand coordination, and inner virtual reality. Fossils also suggest that our species is characterized by an increase in the parietal vascularization, at least on the cortical surface. We know also that at least at the intraparietal sulcus we have areas which are absent in non-human primates. Alzheimer’s disease is described only in our species. One of the first pathological events in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease is a metabolic impairment at the deep parietal areas. May the Alzheimer’s disease be the evolutionary downside of a highly metabolic parietal lobe? Another paper is also in press on Journal of Anthropological Science proposing a further evolutionary framework for Alzheimer’s disease, and interpreting the neurodegenerative process in terms of human evolution, heterochrony, and energy budgets. An evolutionary point of view cannot heal or treat directly an injured brain.   Nonetheless, it may give a different perspective opening to alternative strategies by looking at the pathology not only from its present, but also from its past.

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