The U.S. POINTER neuroimaging ancillary study is the first large-scale investigation of how lifestyle interventions – including exercise, diet, cognitive stimulation and health coaching – affect biological markers of Alzheimer’s and dementia in the brain.

The University of California, Berkeley has been awarded more than $47 million from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, to incorporate advanced brain imaging into the Alzheimer’s Association’s clinical trial, the U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER). U.S. POINTER is a two-year clinical trial designed to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously address many risk factors can reduce risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

The U.S. POINTER neuroimaging ancillary study will use advanced brain imaging techniques, including amyloid positron emission tomography (PET), tau PET and magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans, to assess the effects of lifestyle interventions on brain health, including:

  • Accumulation of amyloid and tau in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer's disease
  • Brain shape and size
  • Blood flow
  • Indicators of heart health risk and small vessel disease

This additional NIA funding will enable researchers to measure the effect of the lifestyle interventions on the health and functioning of the brain. The study responds to the 2018 NIA Research Summit recommendations that encourage rigorous investigations of lifestyle change as a disease-modifying therapy to prevent Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Only those enrolled in the U.S. POINTER study are eligible to be included in the ancillary study.

Learn more about U.S. POINTER.

"This groundbreaking project provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity to examine how lifestyle ‘therapies’ can change our brain in ways that are related to Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and overall brain health."

Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association Chief Science Officer

Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D.,
Chief Science Officer, Alzheimer's Association

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