The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology

Research Studies

The Risk Factor and Neuroimaging Project

With the rapid aging of the American population, chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease which result in memory loss and loss of functional independence will become increasingly common. It is important to identify ways of preventing these diseases and maintaining cognitive vitality. The focus of this project is to identify factors which would influence development of dementia in normal older adults as well as identify factors that are associated with successful aging.

This project enrolls volunteers from the community and follows them with the health assessments and test of brain function. All volunteers are evaluated by a neurologist and then participate in a series of neuropsychological test which assess memory, thinking, attention, language, and the ability to function. Thereafter, participants are seen for follow-up evaluation each year. In addition, blood will be drawn each years to measure potentially important markers that may be related to brain health. Selected subjects are asked to undergo a research MRI to measure brain structure and function.

The comprehensive information collected on study participants is stored in a computerized database. This detailed data provides researchers with information on changes in biology, neurology, neuropsychology, and behavior that accompany aging in health and disease.

The Memory Project

Memory complaints such as 'senior moments' are common as we grow older. These complaints mostly result from normal aging changes, but less commonly may be due to dementia. Understanding the memory process involved in normal aging and dementia will provide valuable insights into identifying, treating, and eventually preventing dementias.

The Memory Project investigates age-related changes in learning an memory. Participants in this study return at 12 month intervals to perform tasks that range from very simple to complex.

These tests include memory for number sequences, words, sentences, and stories. Other tasks may include visual and auditory problem solving. We examine how performance on these tasks relate to normal aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and other dementing illnesses. We also relate the performance on laboratory measures to performance of day-to-day activities.

Gait and Mobility Project

The ability to walk independently is a marker of successful aging. Disturbances in gait and mobility in older persons are associated with diseases of the nervous system, and may serve as early warning signs of adverse outcomes such as falls, nursing home placement, and dementia. The overall goal of the Gait and Mobility Project is to define walking patterns and mobility changes seen with normal aging as well as with disease in older persons.

Subjects who participate in this project will be assessed using tests of mobility, strength, walking skills, and ability to walk and talk at the same time. These tests are designed to examine balance and study the brain centers involved in the control of walking. We will also correlate the information gained from these tests with information gained from other aspects of the study including neuropsychological testing and laboratory data.

Brain Bank Program

The Einstein Aging Study scientists are trying to understand how normal aging, Alzheimer's disease and other disorders affect the brain and how changes in the brain give rise to changes in behavior. Directly examining the brain remains one of the very best ways to learn about brain diseases. By confirming the diagnosis of dementia through autopsy, family members will gain a better understanding of their relative's illness and of the brain changes that have affected their loved one. Many families find comfort in knowing that something positive can result from a very difficult situation.

Our internationally recognized team of neuroscientists have made major contributions to out understanding of the mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease. These insights have contributed to improvements in the diagnosis and the development of the treatments. These and future discoveries would not be possible without the generosity of our study volunteers. Many of our study participants volunteer for our Brain Bank Program by agreeing to leave their brains to science. We encourage our healthy participants to consider donation because we learn as much from the brains of healthy individuals as we do from those with disease.If you decide to participate, you are free to change your mind at any time and withdraw your consent.

The best time to make plans for contributing brain tissue is well in advance of death, with full consideration given to the donor and the family.

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