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Research Grants - 2005


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Research Grants 2005


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2005 Grant - Brickman

Cognitive Reserve and Structural MRI in Alzheimer's Disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Adam M. Brickman, Ph.D.
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, New York

2005 New Investigator Research Grant

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect subtle structural changes in a variety of human organs, including the brain. For this reason, MRI has become a valuable tool for detecting the shrinkage of brain tissue that occurs in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

MRI has shown that the relationship between loss of brain tissue and cognitive disability is not exact. Some people can lose small amounts of brain tissue with little or no loss of cognitive ability, while in others a small amount of shrinkage can lead to cognitive decline. The "cognitive reserve" hypothesis has been introduced to explain this dichotomy. This theory suggests that some people, those with greater cognitive reserve, are better able to withstand age- or disease-related changes to the brain.

Adam Brickman, Ph.D., and colleagues plan to test the cognitive reserve hypothesis experimentally. They will examine the relationship between brain size and cognitive ability in normal healthy adults, people with Alzheimer's, and people with mild cognitive impairment, a condition that often, though not always, progresses to Alzheimer's.

The researchers will test a total of 140 volunteers. In each, brain changes revealed by MRI will be compared to changes in cognitive ability. The study will help determine the relationships between different brain regions and cognition and the impact that cognitive reserve may have on these relation-ships. This may aid in the development of more sensitive diagnostic tests that can measure the progression of Alzheimer's disease.