Brain Changes Associated with Dementia

Dementia is a syndrome characterized by changes in memory and thinking, and the disease can advance to such a degree that persons cannot perform normal functions such as obtaining and fixing food, and cleaning themselves. 

The UK-Alzheimer's Disease Center (ADC) has been a pioneer in understanding the brain changes that are associated with the syndrome of dementia.

It turns out that the findings of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain (these brain changes are called “plaques and tangles”) are only one of many different brain diseases that can affect aged persons.

Other brain changes that cause dementia include “Alzheimer’s mimics”—which may appear instead of, or alongside, the brain changes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Graph of Age vs Percent with Pathology, peaking around 100.


A key Alzheimer’s mimic is called LATE—Limbic-predominant, Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy. The UK-ADC has played important roles in studying and moving the field forward in LATE.

LATE affects millions worldwide and typically affects people somewhat older (80s and 90s, not so much 60s and 70s) than Alzheimer’s disease. LATE preferentially affects short-term memory. Approximately 40% of persons over age 85 have some brain changes of LATE.

Very importantly, the UK-ADC now has secured funding from the NIH to perform the world’s first clinical trial for LATE. 

We are currently investigating the biomarker characteristics of LATE.

Peter T. Nelson, MD, PhD

Room 311
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging
800 S. Limestone St.
Lexington, KY

(859) 218-3862 (office)
(859) 323-2866 (fax)