Are Dementia and Brain Shrinkage Connected?

Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, causes nerve cell death and tissue loss in the brain, which leads to dramatic brain shrinkage over time, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Brain tissue affected by Alzheimer's contains very few nerve cells and synapses when compared to a healthy brain.

Scientists are not entirely sure what causes brain shrinkage and cell death in Alzheimer's patients; however, they suspect that protein plaques and tangles play a role in the process, claims the BrightFocus Foundation. It is thought that the mechanism for disposing of these protein plaques is inhibited in Alzheimer's sufferers; however, the process is not entirely understood.