cover image The End of Memory: A Natural History of Aging and Alzheimer’s

The End of Memory: A Natural History of Aging and Alzheimer’s

Jay Ingram. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-07648-9

In this riveting tale of Alzheimer’s disease, Canadian science writer Ingram (Fatal Flaws) elegantly traces the history of the persistent and devastating ailment and the many medical researchers who have contributed to the public’s understanding of it. Ingram reviews German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer’s 1901 case study of a 51-year-old patient, which offered insight into the causes of the patient’s “premature symptoms of mental decline.” Reports of Alzheimer’s were largely unappreciated by the medical community, but researchers in the 1960s and 1970s confirmed that the “plaques” and “tangles” Alzheimer found in his patient’s brain provided the explanation for the majority of cases of the disease. With crackerjack storytelling and fast-paced prose, Ingram examines recent research into Alzheimer’s, reporting that loss of synapses in the brain, rather than loss of brain volume, accounts for the majority of cases of the dementia that can accompany Alzheimer’s. While there is no cure for the disease, Ingram observes that social, intellectual, and physical activities have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of developing the disease, and he discusses promising drugs, such as citalopram, that may stop the growth of plaque. Ingram’s first-rate medical writing makes this excellent history a must-read. [em](Oct.) [/em]