From Neurodegeneration to Brain Health: An Integrated Approach

J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;46(1):271-83. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150043.


The term "brain health" integrates general health and well-being with cognitive fitness, in the context of an environment that includes the spectrum of positive and negative factors affecting the individual. Brain health incorporates the effects of neurodegeneration in an ecological sense and the effects of environment and health practices on brain function. It also provides a framework for understanding and maximizing cognitive function across the lifespan. Despite decades of research into the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, our understanding of how to treat them is relatively rudimentary. Unidimensional approaches, such as medication monotherapies, have generally produced negative results in treatment trials. New integrative paradigms that cut across the molecular and cellular level to the individual and societal level may provide new approaches to understand and treat these disorders. This report on proceedings of a multi-disciplinary conference held in Cleveland, Ohio, in October 2013 summarizes research progress in understanding neurodegenerative disorders in a brain health context. A new "brain health" paradigm is essential to finally understand neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and overcome the relative stand-still in therapeutics research that has characterized the last decade. The authors summarize progress in these emerging areas with the aim of producing new integrated scientific models for understanding brain health, potentially modifying disease course and advancing care for individuals and families affected by neurodegenerative conditions.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; brain health; neurodegeneration; psychosocial approaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / pathology
  • Alzheimer Disease* / therapy
  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy*
  • Neuroimaging