Most fundamental to our mental life is the way in which we orient ourselves to people around us, events in our life and places we visit. In major neuropsychiatric disorders like Alzheimer’s disease these orientation processes are disrupted. Yet this function of mental orientation has rarely been investigated. A research team from Hadassah's Neuropsychiatry Department, together with researchers from the Swiss Institute of Technology, have recently overcome this challenge. In renowned journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS) they published their discovery of the brain system that processes one’s orientation to other people, life events and places using high-resolution functional MRI. The subsystems managing the three domains were found to be adjacent and partially overlapping. Moreover, the system significantly overlapped the brain’s default-mode network, a system that is disturbed in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers are now investigating the orientation system in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. They hope that these findings will further the understanding of the dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease, enabling early objective identification and definition of this highly disabling neuropsychiatric disorder.
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