Northwestern University Ppa Research Paper

Download a PDF Summary of Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA)

Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a form of cognitive impairment that involves a progressive loss of language function.  Language is a uniquely human faculty that allows us to communicate with each other through the use of words. Our language functions include speaking, understanding what others are saying, repeating things we have heard, naming common objects, reading and writing. “Aphasia” is a general term used to refer to deficits in language functions.  PPA is caused by degeneration in the parts of the brain that are responsible for speech and language. 

PPA begins very gradually and initially is experienced as difficulty thinking of common words while speaking or writing.  PPA progressively worsens to the point where verbal communication by any means is very difficult. The ability to understand what others are saying or what is being read also declines. In the early stages, memory, reasoning and visual perception are not affected by the disease and so individuals with PPA are able to function normally in many routine daily living activities despite the aphasia. However, as the illness progresses, other mental abilities also decline.

Adults of any age can develop PPA, but it is more common in people under the age of 65. People with PPA can have a variety of different language symptoms and no two cases are exactly the same.  

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Brain Donation Helps Fight Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders

Please note: We are only able to accept brain donations from those who have enrolled in our longitudinal research program, the Northwestern Alzheimer’s Disease Center Core study, and have been followed annually in that program.  

If you have any questions about becoming a research participant, or if you are a participant and want to plan for brain donation in advance, please contact our research line at 312-926-1851 and we will return your call within 24 hours during normal business hours. 

We are asking for your help in the struggle against Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative brain diseases that cause dementia. The Northwestern CNADC requests that participants enrolled in our longitudinal research program agree to brain donation at the time of death, whether you are a person with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder or a healthy older individual without dementia. Scientists can compare the brains of affected and healthy individuals. This helps us understand possible causes for these diseases and promotes identification of potential treatment and prevention strategies. Brain donation is one of the most important gifts a patient with dementia and his/her family can make.

Benefits of Brain Donation for Research Participants:

There are two major benefits of brain donation:

  1. Autopsy of the brain after death provides definite confirmation of a diagnosis of dementia. The post mortem examination of brain tissue under the microscope remains the only definitive way of identifying the disease that caused the dementia
  2. After the definitive diagnosis is made, the brain tissue is categorized, stored and then distributed to multiple approved scientists so that they may study the causes of dementia and possible treatments. Major contributions to our understanding of these diseases have come from single case studies. Each and every donation is significant to the cause.

Why Make The Decision?

Brain Autopsy

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