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7. Signal coding

Signal coding

Signal coding

100 billion nerve cells. 100 trillion synapses. dozens of neurotransmitters. This "strength in numbers" provides your brain's raw material. Over time, our experiences create patterns in signal type and strength. These patterns of activity explain how, at the cellular level, our brains code our thoughts, memories, skills and sense of who we are.

The positron emission tomography (PET) scan on the left shows typical patterns of brain activity associated with:

Activity is highest in red areas and then decreases through the other colors of the rainbow from yellow to blue-violet.

Specific activity patterns change throughout life as we meet new people, have new experiences and acquire new skills. The patterns also change when Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder disrupts nerve cells and their connections to one another.

©2007 Alzheimer's Association. All rights reserved. Illustrations by Stacy Janis.