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Ageing and dementia. Current and future concepts
  1. A Burns

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    Edited by KA Jellinger, R Schmidt and M Windisch. Springer Wien New York, Wien, 2002, €108 000, pp 376. ISBN 3-211 83797-3

    This contribution represents a summary of an international symposium on “ageing and dementia”, which took place in Vienna at the end of September 2001. The preface states that as a result of the aftermath of 11 September 2001, the hitherto internationally renowned invited speakers had to be reorganised within a short time. Three key issues were addressed in the meeting—factors that contribute to brain ageing, detection of mild cognitive impairment, and preventive and therapeutic methods that alter these effects. The result is 376 pages comprising 33 contributions over a range of subjects and covering a wide array of approaches from basic science to clinical matters. The authors represent a wide span of interests and countries (although I guess the first author of the publication was not necessarily always the presenting author at the symposium).

    The concept of vascular dementia is summarised very well by the senior editor, and a discussion of the relevance of vascular changes and their rating on brain scans follows. Some discussion on basic process in the genesis of Alzheimer’s disease is intermingled with a contribution discussing a specific marker, followed by discussions of treatment approaches in Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.

    The volume is something of a mixed bag, with a very useful overview written by leaders in the field, coupled with detailed experimental results. They represent, presumably, a faithful summary of the presentations at this particular symposium, but lack something of a thread with which to draw the contributions together. A degree of organisation with perhaps a brief introduction to particular subjects would have been helpful and easily achieved, with reference to the organisers’ aspirational themes. Some of the contributions are lengthy, while others are rather curt.

    That being said, because of its wide approach, it will have wide appeal, and one can safely say that there is something for everybody within its covers. The editors and contributors have succeeded in producing a volume that is of relevance and a pleasure to read. One cannot underestimate the difficulties the organisers had in sustaining the impetus to continue with the meeting after the terrifying events of the 11th September, and this compendium, perhaps, is a piece of evidence to show that things can and should continue as usual.

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