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New grant to study characterisation of Alzheimer’s disease

Dr Andrea Tales

Dr Andrea Tales

4 March 2010

Dr Andrea Tales in the Department of Experimental Psychology has been awarded a grant of £164,000 by local Alzheimer’s research charity BRACE to study the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia using neuroimaging.

Dementia is traditionally characterised and diagnosed in relation to abnormalities in memory and cognition, but these tests alone can lack the sensitivity and specificity necessary for very early diagnosis. It is important therefore to determine whether dementia (and its different types, notably Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia) can be characterised by abnormalities in other brain functions.

Emerging evidence (including that from previous work by Dr Tales and colleagues at Bristol and Cardiff Universities) indicates that Alzheimer’s disease can be characterised by a significant disruption of visual attention. In the new BRACE study, Dr Tales and Cardiff colleagues will use two state-of the-art neuroimaging techniques available at Cardiff University’s imaging centre (CUBRIC) – namely magnetoencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging – to study the functional and structural correlates of disease-related changes in visual attention.

This will lead to a greater understanding of the extent and nature of the brain’s structural abnormality and dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and vascular cognitive impairment. It is anticipated that this will generate new tests of early disease markers and improve understanding of some of the underlying causes of the signs and symptoms of these common clinical disorders.

BRACE is a registered charity established in 1987 to finance research into conditions of the elderly, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. It supports research projects undertaken in universities and hospitals in the South West of the UK, particularly in Bristol, which is a centre of excellence for neuroscience research.

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