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Trinity College Dublin

Volumetric differences in successful and unsuccessful ageing

Research Field: 
Life Sciences
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Lead PI: 
Ian Robertson
Cognitive decline has emerged as one of the greatest health threats of senescence. The prevalence of cognitive impairment with advancing age, together with rapid demographic ageing makes increasing understanding of the ageing brain and cognitive decline an imperative. However, there is considerable variability with regard to both the nature and the severity of cognitive disturbances observed. We have previously combined neuropsychological and electrophysiological techniques to distinguish between age groups (young, old) and/or cognitive performance groups (old high performers, old low performers). The overall approach taken was to capture cognitive variability through the identification of cognitive performance sub-groups and then ascertain whether neurphysiological differences support these classifications. Old participants were sub-divided on the basis of their performance on a memory test relative to an estimate of their pre-morbid IQ. Significant EEG markers could also distinguish between these groups (resting EEG alpha power, ERP components such as the N1, and late positivity). We now endeavor to source the anatomical substrates of these neurophysiological effects using structural MRI. Two measures of interest are anatomical volumetrics, and cortical thinning. Both of these approaches have been previously used to highlight structural abnormalities in Alzheimers disease, Mild cognitive impairment and the onset of Alzheimers disease (Teipel et al, 2007; Dickinson et al., 2011). Understanding the anatomical underpinnings of this cognitive marker is key to the development of future cognitive and pharmacological interventions.
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Last updated 27 Jul 2011Contact Research IT.