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2011 Grants - Trivedi
Neural Correlates of Cognitive Efficiency in Individuals at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease
Mehul A. Trivedi, Ph.D.
Rush University Medical Center
2011 New Investigator Research Grant
Scientists have identified a variety of inherited risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. These include having a parent with the disease and inheriting a variant form of the APOE gene called APOE-e4. APOE provides the genetic "blueprint" for the protein apolipoprotein E, which helps transport lipids (fats) into cells. APOE-e4, however, has been shown to promote the brain accumulation of beta-amyloid, a key suspect in Alzheimer's.
Mehul A. Trivedi, Ph.D., and colleagues have been studying how these risk factors affect cognitive efficiency in middle-age. Cognitive efficiency involves the brain's ability to process information quickly and accurately. The researchers have observed that middle-aged people with dementia risk factors tend to experience faster than normal declines in brain processing speed. These people also exhibit abnormalities of brain structure and function on imaging scans — factors that could affect cognitive efficiency and memory years before clinical symptoms of Alzheimer's appear. Such abnormalities may include reduced functioning of white matter, the complex "wiring system" that connects nerve cells in different brain regions with one another.
For this grant, Dr. Trivedi and colleagues will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques to assess the role of dementia risk factors on white matter functioning and on cognitive efficiency. The team will compare two groups of middle-aged participants who have a parental history of Alzheimer's disease. Members of one group will possess at least one copy of APOE-e4, while members of the other group will not possess the gene variant. Dr. Trivedi's research group hypothesizes that APOE-e4 carriers will display greater white matter abnormalities than will non-carriers. Results from this study could lead to novel methods of identifying people at risk for Alzheimer's disease.