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2008 Grants - Paller
Memory Processing During Sleep in Alzheimer's Disease
Ken A. Paller, Ph.D.
2008 Senator Mark Hatfield Award for Clinical Research
People with Alzheimer's disease suffer losses in declarative memory, or the remembering of facts. Healthy declarative memory requires proper communication between cells in the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex and other regions of the brain. This communication breaks down during Alzheimer's disease.
Recent evidence suggests that the brain maintains its memory-related communication network during both waking hours and sleep. Ken A. Paller, Ph.D., and colleagues plan to study how sleep may affect brain health and the onset of Alzheimer's disease. For this effort, they will recruit a group of participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that often precedes Alzheimer's. Using a recording technique called polysomnography, the researchers will assess whether these individuals suffer disruptions in memory processing while asleep. Dr. Paller's team will also test whether an electrical stimulation treatment can improve their participants' memory storage during sleep.
The results of this effort could lead to future sleep studies with people who have Alzheimer's disease. Ultimately, Dr. Paller's work could reveal novel connections between sleep and brain function. It could also establish electrical stimulation as an effective way of improving quality of life in people with memory disorders.