Brain Atrophy Symptoms

A neurological condition that results in brain tissue loss, brain atrophy can occur in small parts of the brain or affect both hemispheres of the brain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Patients who have atrophied brains can have problems with cognitive functions, such as language and memory. Because patients have a destruction of brain tissue, the changes are permanent.

Cross section of a human brain. (Image: Sander Huiberts/iStock/Getty Images)


Aphasia affects patients' language skills. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that three types of aphasia can occur: Wernicke's aphasia, Broca's aphasia and global aphasia.

Wernicke's aphasia occurs when patients have damage to the temporal lobe, a part of the brain found by the ears. A fluent aphasia, since patients can still speak, Wernicke's aphasia affects patients' understanding of speech. When a Wernicke's aphasia patient speaks, she produces nonlogical speech, usually spoken in long sentences.

Broca's aphasia, on the other hand, results in nonsensical speech production in which patients cannot produce real words easily. A nonfluent aphasia, Broca's aphasia results from damage to the frontal lobe, the front-most part in the brain. Broca's aphasia patients speak in short phrases and have a hard time speaking.

Damage to both areas can result in global aphasia, causing severe problems with speaking and comprehension.


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that while dementia causes brain atrophy, it is also a symptom. Dementia causes patients to have problems with memory, language and personality. For example, patients can have problems with recalling memories and creating new memories, affecting their learning abilities. Dementia also causes poor judgment.

The National Institutes of Health notes that dementia causes language problems: Patients can have difficulty reading and writing, leading up to patients no longer understanding language. By the last stage of dementia, patients have problems taking care of themselves.


Seizures can also occur from brain atrophy. The National Institutes of Health notes that a seizure, which occurs when electrical activity is disrupted in the brain, rarely lasts 15 minutes. Some people may taste a metallic flavor just before the onset of a seizure.

During a seizure, a patient can have a change in consciousness, ranging from a staring spell to complete loss of consciousness. If a patient loses consciousness, confusion or temporary memory loss can occur. Patients may also lose muscle control, and some patients may twitch during a seizure. Changes in emotion, such sudden panic or joy, can also occur with a seizure.

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