Moments of clarity in dementia patients at end of life: Glimmers of hope?

ScienceDaily | 6/28/2019 | Staff
In an article published in the August issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia , an interdisciplinary workgroup convened by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute on Aging and led by Michigan Medicine's George A. Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., outlines what is known and unknown about paradoxical lucidity, considers its potential mechanisms, and details how a thorough scientific analysis could help shed light on the pathophysiology of dementia.

"We've assumed that advanced dementia is an irreversible neurodegenerative process with irreversible functional limitations," says Mashour, professor in the department of anesthesiology, faculty in the neuroscience graduate program, and director of the Center for Consciousness Science. "But if the brain is able to access some sort of functional network configuration during paradoxical lucidity, even in severe dementia, this suggests a reversible component of the disease."

Paper - Work - Case - Studies - Individuals

The paper describes earlier work documenting case studies of individuals with advanced dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, appearing to be able to communicate and recall in a seemingly normal fashion at the end of life, to the astonishment of their caregivers.

"The accumulation of anecdotal reports about paradoxical lucidity in the scientific literature prompts several important research questions," says NIA medical officer Basil Eldadah, M.D., Ph.D. "We look forward to additional research in this area, such as better characterization of lucidity in its varying presentations, new instruments or methods to assess episodes of lucidity retrospectively or in real-time, tools to analyze speech patterns or other behavioral manifestations of lucidity, and evidence to inform decision-making challenges and opportunities prompted by unexpected lucidity."

Precedent - Events - Exists - Study - Experiences

One precedent for investigating such events exists in the study of so-called near-death experiences. In...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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