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Wandering | What's Happening in the Brain

The neurobiology of wandering is controversial. A long held belief was that people who wandered were over-stimulated, but more recent observations suggest that they are under-stimulated. In fact, as wandering is typically accompanied by other repetitive body movements, such as fidgeting, it may well be that the person who wanders is generally under-stimulated. It has also been suggested that wandering might be a way in which neurocompensation (i.e. the brain's attempt to repair itself) is carried out. The idea is that wandering might enhance the process, because of some similarity in the circuitry that is associated with wandering, and circuits that are affected later in the disease. (Rolland et al., A SPECT study of wandering behavior in Alzheimer's disease . Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005;20:816-20.)

Wandering usually occurs later in dementia, in the moderate and severe stages . In our experience, the response to treatment varies, so that the extent to which it reflects a reversible effect of the lack of the brain chemical acetylcholine is not clear. It has been described as being successfully treated in nursing home residents with the drug resperidone. (Rabinowitz et al., Behavioral and psychological symptoms in patients with dementia as a target for pharmacotherapy with risperidone. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;65:1329-34.)

See Also:
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Delusions and Paranoia
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Restlessness
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Place
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Repetitive Behaviour
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Anxiety and Worry
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Restlessness
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Time
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Unsafe Actions
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
About Dementia > Treatments for Dementia > Exercise Program
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Last updated January 15, 2019
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