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Return to Memory Disorders Overview

More on Memory Disorders

Neurology and Neuroscience

Memory Disorders

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About Memory Disorders: Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

A number of disorders that affect the brain can cause dementia, a collection of behavioral and cognitive changes including memory loss, impaired intellectual functioning, and personality changes. Alzheimer's disease is the most common disorder that causes dementia, but several other brain disorders – among them dementia with Lewy bodies, vascular dementia, dementia in Parkinson's disease and Huntington's chorea, frontotemporal dementia, progressive aphasia, and adult hydrocephalus – also lead to a progressive loss of mental function. Some brain disorders that lead to dementia can be halted or reversed with appropriate treatment.

Doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have special expertise in evaluating and treating Alzheimer's and other age-related types of dementia. We are developing the means to identify those at risk for disorders of the aging brain and are devising new therapies to prevent or delay them. Patients treated here and their families can be assured of expert treatment with compassion and respect.

Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease

Unlike many diseases that can be identified with simple laboratory tests, there is no single method for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. To determine whether a patient's dementia is caused by Alzheimer's or by one of the dozens of other brain disorders that can develop as people age requires experience and skill. Doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital evaluate and diagnose the causes of dementias using sophisticated tests including:

  • Blood tests
  • Neuropsychological testing to thoroughly assess memory and thinking
  • Brain imaging tests including MRI or CT imaging and in some cases SPECT or PET imaging
  • Other specialized tests such as lumbar puncture (spinal fluid testing)

Medical Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease

At NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital patients with Alzheimer's and other brain disorders are under the care of a multidisciplinary team that includes neurologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychologists, nurses, social workers, genetic counselors, and rehabilitation specialists. We offer a full spectrum of clinical services at both the Lucy G. Moses Center for Memory and Behavioral Disorders at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and at the Memory Disorders Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Physicians in these programs are members of our neurology and neurosurgery departments, which consistently rank in the top five in the nation in US News and World Report, and number one in New York City.

Research for Alzheimer's Disease

Investigators at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital are conducting clinical studies and laboratory research to uncover the causes of Alzheimer's and other age-related brain diseases and discover ways to prevent and cure these diseases. Significant areas of study include defining the genetic basis of these disorders, determining risk factors for them, devising new imaging techniques for diagnosis and monitoring, and creating new treatments.

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