MRI Brain Scans: Alzheimer’s Symptoms & Brain Damage

Explore MRI brain scans of Alzheimer’s cell loss and see how brain damage changes as the disease progresses. At The Emergent Universe, an online interactive science museum about emergence.

See the Damage

Progressive Destruction

The details of each person’s brain are as unique as a fingerprint. Yet these MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans of 3 individuals at different stages of cognitive decline clearly illustrate the damage typically caused by Alzheimer’s. Move your mouse over the scans to learn more.

Labels: Normal, Mild, Dementia

Lateral fissure

The thin, gray outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, is your brain’s processing center. It contains the cell bodies of all your neurons. As Alzheimer’s progresses and neurons are destroyed, the cortex shrivels. Here you can see how cortical loss has caused a widening of the lateral fissure.

Labels: gray matter, white matter, lateral fissure

Lateral ventricle

Cavities in the brain, called ventricles, allow circulation of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain. In Alzheimer’s, brain matter around the ventricles dies and is lost, causing them to expand dramatically as the disease progresses.

Labels: lateral ventricle

Hippocampal formation

The hippocampus and surrounding areas are responsible for the formation and maintenance of memories. These areas are attacked very early in Alzheimer’s, and, as you can see here, may be almost completely destroyed by later stages of the disease.