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2016 Grants - Bastin
Memory for Entities and Early Tau Accumulation in Prodromal Alzheimer’s Disease
Christine Bastin, Ph.D.
Université de Liège (University of Liège)
2016 New Investigator Research Grant
Can a simple, targeted memory test detect Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest clinical stages?
A major focus of Alzheimer’s research is the discovery of prevention therapies that could halt or slow the disease before significant brain damage has occurred. To use prevention strategies effectively, physicians must be able to accurately determine who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Simple and reliable memory tests are needed to detect the earliest, subtle cognitive changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
One region of the brain involved in memory is called the perirhinal cortex. The perirhinal cortex is believed to be one of the first regions impacted by the accumulation of abnormal tau protein in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Changes in the function of this region may be measurable using cognitive tests that specifically require the perirhinal cortex for memory processing.
Christine Bastin, Ph.D. and colleagues have developed a new memory test that specifically measures familiarity and recollection processes believed to be associated with normal function of the perirhinal cortex. They will administer this test to people with normal cognition, and people with mild cognitive impairment, a condition that may precede Alzheimer’s disease. The participants will also have brain imaging scans to measure tau protein accumulation. The researchers hypothesize that test scores on this memory test will be impaired for people with very early Alzheimer’s disease, and that the impairment will correlate with the amount of tau protein accumulation in the brain.
This work may provide the foundation for the development of a simple, easy to administer diagnostic test that can specifically detect the earliest signs of cognitive decline typical of Alzheimer’s disease. Results from this study may also provide new insights into the memory processes affected by tau protein accumulation in Alzheimer’s disease.