Commentary from FuturePundit on recent research into the mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease: "Myelin is the fatty sheath that coats the axons of the nerves, allowing for efficient conduction of nerve impulses. It is key to the fast processing speeds that underlie our higher cognitive functioning, including, yes, wisdom. Myelination continues sheathing axons until we reach the age of about 50, but in these later stages, the myelin becomes more and more susceptible to damage. ... [a report] suggests that it is the breakdown of this late-stage myelin that promotes the buildup of toxic amyloid-beta fibrils that eventually deposit in the brain and become the plaques which have long been associated with Alzheimer's disease. These amyloid products in turn destroy more and more myelin, [disrupting] brain signaling and leading to cell death and the classic clinical signs of Alzheimer's. ... Your myelin slowly breaks down after age 50. That, by itself, is thoroughly disgusting even before we consider the threat from Alzheimer's. The brain is our most powerful tool. Our brains become less powerful. In the process of its decay and aging we become less capable and lose parts of who we are. Shouldn't we try much harder with research funding to find ways to stop and reverse brain aging?"