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August 1985

Does Alzheimer's Disease Represent an Exaggeration of Normal Aging?

Author Affiliations

From the Departmentment of Neurology and Neurological Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.

Arch Neurol. 1985;42(8):737-739. doi:10.1001/archneur.1985.04210090001001

Consider with me the question in the title, even though it is unanswerable at present. My goal is to present relevant data in a balanced manner and encourage others to devote their investigative talents to providing a definitive answer. However, readers should be warned of my personal bias that the answer is "no."

SIGNIFICANCE  If Alzheimer's disease (AD) represents an exaggeration of normal aging, these corollaries follow: (1) Normal aging and AD have the same causes and mechanisms. (2) There are only quantitative differences between the two. (3) Given sufficient longevity, everyone will develop AD. (4) The study of one may lead to the solution of both. (5) When caretakers of an elderly, demented person seek our advice only after the illness is advanced and explain, "We thought it was just old age," they are closer to the truth than we thought. (6) Normal agingg of the brain represents very