Nerve cells connect to one another at synapses. When a charge reaches a synapse, it may trigger release of tiny bursts of chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters travel across the synapse, carrying signals to other cells. Scientists have identified dozens of neurotransmitters.
Alzheimer's disease disrupts both the way electrical charges travel within cells and the activity of neurotransmitters.
The real work of your brain goes on in individual cells. An adult brain contains about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, with branches that connect at more than 100 trillion points. Scientists call this dense, branching network a "neuron forest."
Signals traveling through the neuron forest form the basis of memories, thoughts, and feelings.
Neurons are the chief type of cell destroyed by Alzheimer's disease.