What happens when you have too much white matter in the brain?
White matter disease
A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of an organism, and that is not immediately due to any external injury. Diseases are often known to be medical conditions that are associated with specific signs and symptoms.
What does increased white matter in the brain mean?
White matter disease is commonly detected on brain MRI of aging individuals as white matter hyperintensities (WMH), or 'leukoaraiosis.” Over the years it has become increasingly clear that the presence and extent of WMH is a radiographic marker of small cerebral vessel disease and an important predictor of the life- ...
While white matter disease has been associated with strokes, cognitive loss, and dementia, it also has some physical and emotional symptoms such as balance problems, falls, depression, and difficulty multitasking (e.g., walking and talking.)
Originally, white matter disease was considered a normal, age-related change. But over the last decade, medical experts have come to understand that the presence of large areas of disease in the white matter of the brain are associated with cognitive decline and dementia in patients.
Some white matter lesions may not cause noticeable symptoms and can be considered almost “normal” with aging. However, some of these lesions can damage important pathways (highways) within your brain and can cause problems with memory, balance and walking.
Can white matter disease cause personality changes?
The range of clinical features heralding the onset of white matter involvement is impressively broad and may include inattention, executive dysfunction, confusion, memory loss, personality change, depression, somnolence, lassitude, or fatigue.
Patients with extensive white matter hyperintensities are likely to have tension-type headaches or to have headaches develop during middle age, according to results published in Cephalagia. Currently, there are no established treatments or strategies for managing white matter hyperintensities.
A radiologist, particularly a neuroradiologist, has expertise in what the brain should look like on an MRI. When evaluating for white matter disease, the radiologist will be looking for abnormal signal in the brain tissue.
White matter disease is the wearing away of tissue in the largest and deepest part of your brain that has a number of causes, including aging. This tissue contains millions of nerve fibers, or axons, that connect other parts of the brain and spinal cord and signal your nerves to talk to one another.
In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The attack causes inflammation that eventually leads to sclerosis, which is the medical term for scarring. (That's how MS got its name.)
White spots on a brain MRI are not always a reason for concern. There are many possible causes, including vitamin deficiencies, infections, migraines, and strokes. Other risk factors for white spots include age, genetics, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
Age-correlated studies reveal that the changes in white matter may be much higher than those of gray matter (Miller et al., 1980). Upto 40 years of age, the white matter volume increases and is closely related to the formation of the myelin sheath (Courchesne et al., 2000; Bartzokis, 2004).
Leukoaraiosis is caused by hypoxia-ischaemia that results from diseases of the small vessels, typically the thalamostriate arteries and other perforating arteries. However, there are controversies regarding the causes of stenosis or occlusion of these vessels.
White matter disease may develop with conditions associated with aging, such as stroke, but it can also affect young people due to conditions such as cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy and multiple sclerosis (MS).
White matter has a legitimate position in the study of dementia. The neuropathology of white matter disorders is typically diffuse or widespread, thus disrupting many networks simultaneously and producing a multi-domain syndrome that merits the term dementia.
We postulate that white matter lesions may induce dizziness either because patients perceive a degree of objective unsteadiness or by a cortical–subcortical disconnection syndrome, secondary to disruption of white matter tracts involved in gait and balance control , .
Conclusion White matter lesions, especially in the periventricular region, increase the risk of dementia in elderly people. Cerebral white matter lesions (WML) in elderly people are thought to result from small-vessel disease and are considered to be a risk factor for dementia.
Conclusions: Non-clinical individuals with high anxiety already have white matter alterations in the thalamus-cortical circuit and some emotion-related areas that were widely reported in anxiety-related disorders. The altered white matter may be a vulnerability marker in individuals at high risk of clinical anxiety.
White matter injuries are very serious, but, depending on the type and extent of the injury, extensive recovery may occur. As long as the neuron cell bodies remain healthy, axons can regrow and slowly repair themselves.
Unlike Alzheimer's disease which shrinks the hippocampus causing progressive memory loss, white matter disease is a more diffuse mind-robbing condition that targets small blood vessels deep within the brain's white matter.
Like memory tests, on their own brain scans cannot diagnose dementia, but are used as part of the wider assessment. Not everyone will need a brain scan, particularly if the tests and assessments show that dementia is a likely diagnosis.
White matter hyperintensities (WMH, also known as leukoaraiosis) detected by various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques are common in elderly, with prevalence in healthy individuals ranging from 40% to 70% in the fifth decade of life.