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Like sandpaper: Alzheimer on colours

In 1901, a German psychiatrist, Alois Alzheimer, first noted the disease when he described the case of a 51-year-old woman named Auguste Deter. "She sits on the bed with a helpless expression," Alzheimer wrote. "What is your name? Auguste. Your husband? Ah, my husband. She looks as if she didn't understand the question."

Five years later, when Auguste Deter died, Alzheimer examined her brain. It was the color of sandpaper and the texture of tofu, like every other brain. But there the similarities ended. Deter's brain was shriveled and flecked with tiny particles that stuck to it like barnacles. No one had ever seen such a thing before in any brain.



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