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An Effective Alzheimers Treatment?

Let's hope so. Alzheimers is, to me, one of the worst diseases, because it steals not just your body, but your mind, to the point that you're essentially dead while the empty husk metabolizes on. If it's actually possible to reverse the progress of the disease, that's huge news. But I wonder if in doing so, you've still lost some irretrievable memories? And if so, who are you?


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Jason Bontrager wrote:

While I have no desire to suffer from Alzheimer's, I've gotta say there are more than a few memories that I wouldn't miss.

Of course these people won't be able to pick and choose, but a second chance at building new memories would probably be worth the price. Especially considering the alternative.

ken anthony wrote:

It's possible the memory is still there but inaccessible. If so, reversal of the disease would just bring the person back. In the worst case, you'd probably still be able to put some kind of life back together and those that were taking care of you would certainly feel the benefit.

I have a brother-in-law that may be in the early stages.

Carl Pham wrote:

You underestimate the disease, Rand. The popular image of Alzheimer's turning you into a vacant but gentle shell is the nicest form of Alzheimer's, when the primary brain areas affected are those that produce emotion and memory.

But it's entirely possible that the regions primarily affected are those that govern strategic planning, including social appropriateness and the governance of id drives.

In that case, you turn into an embarassment and a monster, someone who throws furious tantrums in public (think of your generic two-year-old, transported into an adult body), who'll masturbate in public, express fleeting thoughts of hostility against his loved ones in horribly excessive and explicit profanity-laced terms, and so forth.

I've known someone whose father suffered this way. He turned from a gentle, thoughtful soul into a wildly-inappropriate, uncontrollable and violent madman who was kept doped up on Thorazine until he died.

Frank Glover wrote:

"But I wonder if in doing so, you've still lost some irretrievable memories? And if so, who are you?"

The late (but cryopreserved) Thomas Donaldson considered such questions in his essay '24th Century Medicine:"

Even when we learn to regenerate brain tissue in those people who have lost a signifigant amount of it to accident, mayhem or disease, whatever part of their memories knowledge and skills that were stored in those locations will likely be lost forever. He called them 'Identity damaged persons,' something which we see only a limited amount of today, as those people simply die, with today's technology. When one can regenerate even massive tissue damage, it begins to be an issue.

Some years back, based on this, I speculated to a friend that it might be difficult to prosecute someone who had intenionally caused harm to such a person in an atttempt to kill them outright. If a major part of what they were is irrecoverably gone, even though the victim can ultimately become fully functional again, has a (say) 60%* murder been committed?

Rand Simberg wrote:

I hadn't heard that Thomas had been suspended, but I haven't really kept up with the Alcor folks for the past several years. I assume that the brain tumor eventually got him, or something else?

Rand Simberg wrote:

Ah, I see that Wikipedia has the story. He died a couple years ago, of a recurrence of the cancer. At least he lasted many years longer than originally expected. Here's hoping that it works.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

The you of now is not identical to the you of yesterday or possibly even a few seconds ago (by for example reading this). Concepts of "youness" based solely or primarily on memory as data are insufficient (we're more than the sum of our parts).

What did you have for dinner six days ago? What happened at work the day precisely two weeks ago? How was your thirteenth birthday? How did it feel learning to walk? We lose and distort memories constantly including remote major events but we don't lose our identity, we continually recreate it. Maybe the way we unconsciously go about recreating our identity says more about who we are.

Bias: due to illness I suffer from short term memory loss, occasionally severe enough to leave blank gaps of nothingness (which is quite unnerving when it happens in public as one has no idea what has been happening and one could possibly not even be aware of short discontinuities which is even worse). Ergo the above might just make me feel good.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Ergo the above might just make me feel good.

Make who feel good? You, or that other guy? ;-)

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Lol ^_^

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 20, 2008 10:15 AM.

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