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Frontal Lobe Brain Damage in Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's ultimately affects all parts of the brain but each person is affected differently as the disease progresses. In part this is due to the nature and extent of damage being caused to different areas of the brain. Each section of the brain is known as a lobe; a lobe simply means a part of an organ (earlobe for example). Here, we examine the effects of damage to the frontal lobe of the brain.

As the name suggests the frontal lobe of the brain is towards the front (see picture below). Damage to the frontal lobe can have a number of effects in terms of type and severity. For example, damage might result in a loss of motivation, with the person becoming tired, lethargic and struggling to get out of bed.



Because the frontal lobes are important for planning and organising our actions any damage can result in people having to re-learn even the simplest of tasks - not really an option in dementia. In Alzheimer's disease a sign of frontal lobe damage might be seeing someone do the same thing over and over again such as folding a cloth, putting a shoe on and off, or repeatedly picking or touching something with no purpose.

The frontal lobes also have a role in regulating behavior and help prevent us from saying or doing things that might be viewed as threatening, bizarre or generally inappropriate. Damage can result in a range of behaviors such as swearing, undressing, urinating in public, eating & drinking non-food items and so on. 

As the frontal lobes work together in a complex fashion, damage to different areas will have different effects. As this is the area of the brain we most closely associate with 'personality' it is to be expected that degeneration can result in the appearance of a very different person to the one you first knew. No two people are the same however and this applies equally to the process of dementia. 

Although I have provided some examples of frontal lobe damage it does not follow that everyone's behavior will be affected in all the ways previously described.

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Updated 11/15/2005

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