Memory Disorders Unit

The Memory Disorders Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of cognitive impairment, such as Lewy Body dementia, frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia.

What to Expect

Before your first appointment, your physician should fax a medical referral form and your medical history to 617-724-0412. Regrettably, we cannot book appointments without a referral.

As a next step, patients must choose a family member, friend or caregiver to act as their primary contact person. This person should be available for a short phone call to answer questions about the patient’s symptoms before the first appointment.

At the first appointment, a neurologist meets with the patient and primary contact person for about 75 minutes to conduct a thorough neurological examination and discuss symptoms and history.

After the evaluation and follow-up diagnostic testing we design an individually tailored treatment plan for the patient. During follow-up visits (about every six months) we:

  • Re-evaluate the patient's activities of daily living
  • Perform a comprehensive memory reassessment
  • Complete a neurologic exam
  • Review medication needs

We support and monitor each patient's ongoing treatment in close consultation with our staff psychiatrist and social worker. Although the conditions we treat do not yet have cures, our continued involvement allows us to anticipate and address new symptoms as they arise.

Please note: A family member should attend appointments with the patient to help provide an accurate medical history.

Integrating Research With Clinical Care

The Memory Disorders Unit staff includes board-certified medical professionals who are leaders in basic, translational and clinical research. It's a rare and potent combination.

Pioneering laboratory research in memory disorders takes place through the laboratories of the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (MADRC) and the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND). Among the MADRC's important accomplishments is its groundbreaking research in genes linked with Alzheimer's.

Both the MADRC and Memory Disorders Clinic conduct clinical trials in Alzheimer's and related neurodegenerative disorders. Patients have the opportunity to take part in a diverse range of studies, from longitudinal observational studies tracking the natural course of a disease to clinical trials testing the latest and most promising therapies.

Deeply committed to finding causes and improving treatments for our patients, all of our staff neurologists are engaged in state-of-the-art research that could one day result in cures. Their pioneering research efforts inform and often enhance their clinical success in diagnosing and treating patients.

Expertise Across Specific Disorders

The neurologists in the Memory Disorders Unit bring collective expertise in a robust range of specific disorders. Working together as a team, we have the keen ability to recognize and diagnose even the rarest of conditions, such as primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

What does this mean for patient care? We can diagnose conditions with exceptional accuracy and efficiency. This, in turn, allows us to take the most appropriate therapeutic approach and ultimately optimize the patient's quality of life.

As part of the Mass General Department of Neurology, we regularly interact with some of the field's foremost authorities in other conditions that commonly affect our patients, such as sleep apnea and stroke. At times, we also call on the expertise of colleagues from outside of our department, such as those in geriatrics, radiology or psychiatry. Our multidisciplinary approach ensures we address all aspects of the patient's condition at a world-class level.

The Memory Disorders Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, a specialized care clinic for patients experiencing memory problems, is composed of the Memory Disorders Clinic and the Massachusetts Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (MADRC).

Through the Memory Disorders Clinic, patients receive compassionate, professional care throughout the diagnostic, treatment and follow-up processes. Associated services include:

  • Comprehensive neurologic assessment and follow-up
  • Psychiatric assessment and monitoring as needed
  • Neuropsychological assessment and follow-up
  • Specialized pharmacological interventions for symptom management
  • Genetic counseling for rare cases of inherited memory disorders
  • Support groups and social service consultations for family members

In addition, a unique, collaborative relationship with the MADRC—through which we conduct clinical trials—connects us with cutting-edge Alzheimer's disease research. Supported by the National Institutes of Health, the MADRC performs innovative neuroscience research aimed at uncovering the causes, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's and related neurodegenerative diseases.

A Specialized Hub of Research & Treatment

John H. Growdon, MD, has served as director of the Memory Disorders Clinic since its inception in 1982. He also headed up the efforts of the MADRC until Bradley T. Hyman, MD, PhD, assumed leadership in April 2006.

Both Dr. Hyman and our renowned geneticist Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, have earned the American Academy of Neurology's prestigious Potamkin Prize for Research in Pick's, Alzheimer's and Related Diseases. The rest of our unit's staff consists of:

  • Board-certified neurologists fluent in English, French, Hebrew and Spanish
  • A board-certified geriatric psychiatrist
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Neuropathologists
  • Biostatisticians
  • A social worker
  • A speech and language therapist
  • Unit and research coordinators
  • Psychometricians
  • Research assistants
  • A genetic counselor

Research Opportunities The MADRC conducts clinical trials involving a variety of neurologic disorders. For information about ongoing studies and the ability to participate, please contact unit coordinator 617-726-1728. Browse online for open trials.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die, often resulting in symptoms such as impaired memory, thinking and behavior.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Genetic treasure hunt finds trove of Alzheimer’s disease genes

Leveraging Alzheimer’s Genome Project™ data, geneticist Rudy Tanzi, PhD, completes research to discover all gene variants that increase a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

E Pluribus Unum for Parkinson Disease - Researchers Draw on Sources to Improve Treatment of PD

What do Gaucher’s disease, gout, and amyloid plaques have in common? For researchers at the MGH, each of them may shed light on the causes and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Ihn Sik Seong: The Long Search for the Full Story of Huntington’s Disease

Understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Huntington’s disease.

Alzheimer's Early Treatment

Can anti-amyloid antibody treatment reverse Alzheimer’s disease pathology before memory loss sets in?

Alzheimer’s Preclinical Disease Biomarker

Mark Albers, MD, PhD, is developing a set of simple but powerful tools to screen for the very earliest stages of preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease.

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, 2011 Part I

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Past History of MGH Neurology; Overview of MGH Neurology; Telestroke and Acute Stroke Service; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Pediatric Neurology.

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, 2011 Part II

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Clinical and research presentations on ALS, Stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration 2011 II HD

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Clinical and research presentations on Huntington’s Disease, Epilepsy, and Neuro-Oncology.

Partners Neurology Residency

Neurology residents, program graduates, faculty members, and the education director talk about training at Mass General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Memory Disorders Unit

Wang Ambulatory Care Center
8th Floor, Suite 835
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-1728
Fax: 617-726-4101

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes

Memory Disorders Coordinators
Phone: 617-726-1728

Mailing Address
Department of Neurology
Memory Disorders Unit
Mailcode: WACC 715
Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Patient Frequently Asked Questions 

Download FAQ PDF

What happens in a new patient appointment/what can I expect?
During your new patient appointment you can expect a 75 minute consult consisting of reviewing history, discussion of what your concerns are, mini mental exams, creating a plan for moving forward,  The physician may order more in depth testing such as imaging (PET, MRI, etc) or Neuropsychological testing or a Spinal tap, or simply a follow up- which is determined on a case to case basis.

Why does someone have to accompany me/why can’t I come alone?
Because our patients come to clinic with questions of memory loss we do require someone accompany them to appointments and have a designated contact person.

How often will I have appointments?
After the first appointment the Doctor may order testing and we arrange a follow up to review the results, after that appointment most patients are seen every 6 months.

Will I have testing the same day as my appointment?
No. Typically the tests are scheduled for a later date. You may have blood drawn the same day, but that is typically all that is done the same day.

Should I bring anything?
If you have them, please bring any pertinent records, imaging discs, and a list of current medications.

How long are the appointments?
New patients: 75 minutes, resume 30 minutes
Follow up appointments: 45 minutes

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