The Connections Between Microbleeding and Brain Deterioration

The study of brain deterioration has been an important research point for many psychologists since the development of the science. While it is known that all brains do degenerate over time, there is still not much known about certain diseases that many individuals develop as their brains change which significantly affect ones abilities. Recently there was a study conducted in the Netherlands to further earlier research developed about the connections associated with micro bleeds in the brain and cognitive impairment. Microbleeds are small hemorrhages that occur in any part of the brain, most commonly in older adults due to weakened blood vessel walls. Some are believed to occur due to certain proteins released in the brain while others are a result of certain life style choices or diseases like smoking or diabetes.

Earlier studies have made the discovery that these microbleeds do not affect the rate of deterioration of patients with Dementia cognitive abilities- they now wish to explore whether or not these bleeds may put healthy people at risk of developing dementia later in life. Dementia is known as the general decline of mental ability that is severe enough to effect every day life, there are many forms of dementia that affect things such as cognitive abilities like memory, speech, and recognition, as well as worsening ones behavior, mood, muscles, and psychological heath. A person can experience an onset of dementia for an an abundance of reasons from having a genetic predisposition, to age, unhealthy life choices like heavy alcohol use, and even environmental influences for example certain diseases like pneumonia or a brain injury.
In order to take on this study, Saloua Akoudad- the head researcher on this case- and her colleagues combined forces with an ongoing project called the Rotterdam Study. This study examines risk factors for an abundance of different localized diseases. This study provided data from 4,841 MRI scans of cognitively healthy older people- with the average age of 64. About 75% of this group then completed a neuropsychological test that evaluated several cognitive functions as a baseline and then took the same test again six years later. This type of study is known as longitudinal because it focuses on the same group of people in a study over a long period of time to observe the specific changes in those individuals.

At the six year mark of the study it was shown that an occurrence of four or more microbleeds corresponded with cognitive decline. In those patients that had four or more bleeds, it was found that the location was important to what cognitive processes were negatively affected by the deterioration. For example, declines in memory and information processing occurred when the bleeds occurred in the lobar regions; opposed to motor speed that was affected when they occurred deep in the brain.
Contrary to this, it was discovered that when the onset dementia occurred, there was no correlation to the locations of the bleeds within the brain. At the end of the study, 72 patients had developed dementia and from those it was determined that microbleeds double a person’s risk of developing dementia. It was then concluded that all small vessel diseases raise the risk for dementia because each can cause the occurrence of microbleeds.

Ultimately this study helped to broaden the amount of information known about cognitive decay and opened a window for other scientists like themselves that want to understand more in depth what occurs and how to prevent or cure the onset of certain defects and diseases like dementia that are associated with these microbleeds. Because this study was only performed once so far, more will have to follow up to confirm all theories that had been created based on the information learned. This is the main gateway for more studies to be conducted in order to further the strides Akoudad and other researchers have made.

I believe this is a very important topic to be researched because it is a occurrence that is common enough in peoples lives that most people are affected by it. I found the article site to be very informative and reliable based on the amount of citations and sources as well as the primary paper it was talking about. I like how this scientific group took to trying to find underlying causes of the deterioration because not much is known about it and it is hard to work towards curing or preventing without knowing what specifically you have to try to fix. Dementia is such a broad and misunderstood topic that it is hard to have hope when someone is diagnosed with a version of it. It was very ingenious of these scientists to question if there was possibly a connection between a common small occurrence such as microbleeds and something as pronounced as dementia. I believe this is a fairly successful study; however, I wish I was able to find more of a continuation of the study showing people other that this Netherland group had found similar significant finding solidifying that these correlations and connections are in fact confirmed to be true. I hope with a bit of continued researched into the topic, I will find more has been discovered on the topic.

“Microbleeds in the Brain Portend Dementia .” How Early Onset Dementia Led to a Historic Discovery | ALZFORUM, 7 June 2016, www.alzforum.org/news/research-news/microbleeds-brain-portend-dementia.

2 thoughts on “The Connections Between Microbleeding and Brain Deterioration

  1. staylor6

    This is a really cool study to hear about. I find it very interesting that the threshold is four microbleeds in the brain and that the different areas affected different functions. I have a relative that suffered from an occipital stroke where they received significant damage from cerebral hemorrhaging in the center and lower regions of the occipital lobe. One thing I saw in this study that correlated with their symptoms is the loss in functionality where the hemorrhaging occurred. In their case, it resulted in a loss of vision over many regions of the eye. One fascinating thing I saw during their recovery is how quickly an elderly person, if determined, can learn to cope with these deficits. I would be curious as to if there have been any studies that have looked at the rate of decline in those with microbleeds in the brain that have received treatment for their cognitive deficits and compared that to those who have not to see how effective the treatments are.

  2. jmzm

    It is very interesting that you found so much information on microbleeding since it is a topic not much is known about. I tried to find other studies related or similar to what you said, a continuation for more information but was unsuccessful generally. The fact that four or more bleeds had such a dramatic impact makes sense in my opinion because it reminds me of having an injury in any location of the body over and over – the area gets weaker. However, I do wonder if there will be follow up studies regarding the timing these bleeds occur. If the bleeds don’t happen close together, is there a less chance of such intense cognitive decline? It reminded me of concussions, they were discussed in another psychology class of mine. Their effects on the brain are intensified based on location of injury and how frequent they occur. Similar to the microbleeds, the concussions can be caused by lifestyle choices per say too, such as exposure to certain sports. However, for the people that have diseases or biological backings behind microbleeds, I want to look into what is most effective treatment for them.

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