List of Brain Diseases with Brief Description

In This Article You Will Know:

  • What are the major causes of neurological damage?
  • Which brain disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US?
  • Why do the cognitive abilities of humans exceed those of other mammals with larger brains?
  • Which neurodegenerative brain disorder is named after George Huntington?
  • What conditions arise when the immune system mistakenly damages the body’s own nerves?

Being extremely sensitive and delicate, your brain is more affected by disease than any other organ of the body. Problems arise when your complex and finally calibrated machine, called the brain, gets injured or contracts an illness.

The conditions like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, dementia, and stroke almost always lead to some form of neurological damage. Among them, Alzheimer’s disease is also the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Did you know as many as 50m individuals suffer from some form of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s?

Mental illness is a broad category of brain conditions, which are more common than neurological disorders. Common mental health conditions include anxiety, depression, and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), etc. Among them, depression and anxiety are highly treatable through some kind of therapy and various medications.

When measured in relation to the body size, the humans have the largest brain of any primate – a mammal from the group that includes the monkeys, apes, lemurs, lorises, and human beings.

H.K. Jon, et al (2017) claim in their book “The Physics of the Mind and Brain Disorders: Integrated Neural Circuits Supporting the Emergence of Mind” that the cognitive and perceptual abilities of humans are so profound that no other animal could ever come close to matching them.

According to them, another reason why the cognitive abilities of humans exceed those of other primates is that their neocortex contains more number of neurons than any other mammal even those having larger brains, like elephants.

Types of Brain Diseases:

There are several types of brain diseases, which can be categorized under different headings. They include infections, neurodegenerative conditions, autoimmune conditions, vascular conditions, tumors, seizures, and trauma.

Here’s a brief overview of different diseases falling in the above categories.

Neurodegenerative Disorders:

The neurodegenerative conditions are those diseases of the brain which involve neurological damage. The human brain diseases list from this category includes dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Pick’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Dementia:

Dementia refers to the loss of cognitive functioning. In this case, an individual’s ability to think, remember, and reason is lost to such an extent that it affects their routine life and activities.

Alcohol abuse, strokes, and any condition involving the degeneration of nerves may lead to dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease:

A degenerative disorder, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It involves degeneration of nerves in certain areas of the brain due to some unclear reasons. The patient suffers a progressive loss of memory and mental function.

Diseases of Brain - Alzheimer's Disease

Fig.: Alzheimer's Disease

According to Linda et al (2011), this fatal and progressive disease of the brain (Alzheimer’s) accounts for 60 to 80 cases of all dementias.

Pick’s Disease:

A subtype of frontal lobe dementia, the Pick’s disease is marked by the presence of Pick cells, which contain degraded protein material. It is alternatively known as ‘circumscribe cortical atrophy’ because the atrophied areas tend to be strictly delimited.

Though it can occur any time in the adult life span, it usually first appears in one’s 50s. Being a rare disease, its incidence rate generally runs about 2% of dementia patients.

The symptoms of this steadily progressive disorder include difficulty with speech, memory loss, inappropriate behavior, and personality changes, etc.

Parkinson’s Disease:

Parkinson’s disease (PD) gets its name from James Parkinson, who first formally described it in 1817. While the exact causes of PD are unknown, it may result from genetic and environmental factors.

Early signs of Parkinson’s disease include an unstable posture, slowness of movements, stiffness of limbs, and tremor of hands.

Huntington’s Disease:

Huntington’s diseases bears the name of George Huntington, who made a remarkable contribution to the description and understanding of the disease.

Huntington’s disease is a degenerative nerve disorder that causes the degeneration of the brain cells. Its symptoms include dementia and chorea (difficulty controlling movements). Irritability, depression, and mood swings are some of its early signs.

Brain Infections:

The infectious diseases of the brain include abscesses, meningitis, and encephalitis. A brain abscess is an infection of the brain, which may be caused by either bacteria or opportunistic pathogens. In the case of encephalitis, the inflammation of brain tissue occurs due to a viral infection.

Diseases of Brain - Infections

Fig.: Brain Infections

Meningitis occurs when the lining around the brain gets inflamed. It may cause confusion, fever, headache, and stiffening of the neck region, etc. Sometimes, meningitis and encephalitis occur together in a condition known as meningoencephalitis.

Autoimmune Disorders:

In the case of autoimmune disorders, the immune system of the body attacks the body’s own nerves. The brain diseases linked to an autoimmune condition include multiple sclerosis and vasculitis.

Diseases of Brain - Multiple Sclerosis

Fig.: Autoimmune Disorders

Affecting about 2.4 million people worldwide, multiple sclerosis is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in young adults. The chances of its occurrence are particularly high in women. In this disease, the immune system mistakenly damages the nerves cells in the body. Weakness, fatigue, and muscle spasms are some of its commonly occurring symptoms.

Vasculitis is an inflammatory disease of the brain. In the case of cerebral vasculitis, the leptomeningeal and parenchymal vessels in the brain get inflamed. The symptoms of this rare condition include seizures, headache, confusion, unconsciousness, psychosis, and neurological deficit.

Vascular Conditions:

Described below are some of the vascular conditions of the brain.

Stroke:

A stroke is characterized by the sudden interruption in the supply of blood and oxygen to a tissue of the brain, thus leading to its death. The parts of the body controlled by the affected brain area stop functioning normally. There are several types of stroke, such as hemorrhage stroke and ischemic stroke.

Diseases of Brain - Stroke

Fig.: Brain Stroke

Brain Aneurysm:

Brain aneurysm develops when an artery in the brain swells and ruptures. This rupture may cause excessive bleeding, thus leading to a stroke.

Epidural Hematoma:

A head injury may cause an artery to rupture and cause bleeding in the area between the skull and hard lining of the brain, called dura. Such a condition is called epidural or extradural hematoma.

Cerebral Edema:

Cerebral edema refers to the swelling of a brain tissue, which may be in response to electrolyte imbalance or head injury.

Brain Tumors:

A brain tumor is characterized by the growth of an abnormal tissue inside the brain, which may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (non-malignant or benign). Such an abnormal mass exerts pressure against the normal brain mass and causes problems.

Diseases of Brain - Brain Tumor

Fig.: Brain Tumor

Seizures:

Seizures may occur due to an underlying condition such as epilepsy. In the case of epilepsy, an excessive and abnormal electrical activity leads to recurring seizures in the brain. The causes of epilepsy include a stroke, brain infection, or head injury.

Trauma:

A severe shock may lead to a mental condition, called trauma. In the case of trauma, the harmful effects last for a long time. It may involve conditions like a concussion, intracerebral hemorrhage, and traumatic brain injury. Concussions are caused by a brain injury, which may temporarily disturb the normal brain function.

About the Author

Posted by: M.Isaac / Senior writer

A graduate in biological sciences and a PhD scholar, Isaac combines his vast experience with a keen and critical eye to create practical and inherently engaging content on the human body. His background as a researcher and instructor at a secondary school enables him to best understand the needs of the beginner level learners and the amateur readers and educate them about how their body works, and how they can adopt a healthier lifestyle.

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