On The Brain is a quarterly e-newsletter highlighting Harvard’s work to advance research and understanding of the brain

On The Brain

Geriatric doctor consulting and diagnostic examining elderly senior adult patient on ageing in medical exam clinic or hospital

Delirium, Dementia, and the Brain

The scenario is distressing: Your elderly parent is hospitalized and becomes confused, lethargic, and not himself. He may very well have delirium, a sudden change in mental status that is common, serious, costly, and often unrecognized. With proper attention, however, many cases of delirium can be prevented.

“Delirium comes on acutely. Someone can be OK one day and totally out of it the next day,” says HMS Professor of Medicine Sharon Inouye, MD, MPH.

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Wade Harper

Faculty First Person
Wade Harper, PhD

Neurons are the substrate of our cognition, memory, and emotion. Yet, remarkably, they are also cells like any other tissue of the body, containing a nucleus, mitochondria, and proteins that ensure cells are able to make energy and survive. When neurons die, such as in Alzheimer’s disease, patients have impairments in cognition and behavior.

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In the News

Decoding Touch

The inability to tolerate light touch is a telltale feature of autism and one of the disorder’s many perplexing symptoms. A study led by investigators at HMS points to a possible treatment for the condition. Read more »

Depression and Alzheimer’s

Research at HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital indicates that depression symptoms in cognitively healthy older individuals, together with brain amyloid—a biological marker of Alzheimer’s—could trigger changes in memory and thinking over time. Read more »

When One Is Really Four

The cancer known as glioblastoma aggressively infiltrates healthy brain tissue. A recent study discovered that regardless of what genetic mutation causes glioblastoma, it can readily shift among four distinct cell types, each of which may need to be targeted separately. Read more »


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