US researchers have discovered a mechanism that will improve understanding of the memory loss caused by Alzheimer's disease.
They found that the protein that is known to build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, amyloid-beta (A-beta), overexcites the brain networks responsible for learning and memory.
Senior author Dr Lennart Mucke said: "We were really surprised by these findings because A-beta had previously been suspected to primarily suppress neuronal activity.
"This abnormal brain activity could play an important role in the development of Alzheimer-related cognitive impairments."
The study suggests that A-beta could be the reason for Alzheimer's sufferers having a higher risk of experiencing seizures.
Dr Mucke continued: "Our results have important therapeutic implications, because the prevention and reversal of non-convulsive seizure activity has not yet been a major focus of clinical trials in Alzheimer's disease.
"Our results suggest that the suppression of this activity might prevent and possibly even reverse cognitive impairments induced by high levels of A-beta."