The Fragile Brain is a clear and comprehensive guide to the fast-changing science of dementia. Written by an experienced science writer, trained in neuroscience and with a track record of explaining complicated research simply and engagingly, it is also a search for understanding by someone whose family – like many families – has had to face up to dementia first-hand. The book sets out the history of ideas about dementia, introducing influential hypotheses and researchers. Rich in anecdotes, it is rigorously true to the science, discussing current debates about the causes of dementia, the latest scientific understanding of risk factors for the disease, and the exciting new treatments now being developed. From problems with proteins to dying brain cells, from body to brain to suffering human being, The Fragile Brain is a helpful guide to one of the most terrifying of all illnesses.
Did you know?
- Most cases of dementia have no single cause, but some are due to faulty genes, and these tend to start at younger ages. In rare cases, dementia can even affect children.
- In ancient Greece, free men were judged unfit to dispose of their financial assets if their minds were impaired by illness, drugs, old age – or the influence of a woman.
- Having diabetes or depression increases the risk of having dementia later in life.
- The woman whose brain led to the discovery of Alzheimer’s disease didn’t actually have Alzheimer’s disease.
- The ancient Romans were already debating many key issues about dementia which still frame how we think about it today. For example, the Roman writer Cicero recognised the influence of what we would call lifestyle factors and genetics, and pondered whether dementia was a disease or just extreme old age.
- Alzheimer did his PhD on earwax.