One million people in Ireland are aged 60 years or older, 10% of whom suffer from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). MCI is neuropsychiatric condition wherein people experience a marked deterioration in cognitive functioning (greater than expected for their age). MCI is considered to be a prodromal stage for Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias – around 15% of MCI patients receive a diagnosis of dementia each year. Being able to detect early onset MCI is therefore of vital importance for enhancing diagnostics and providing new opportunities for preventative care.
We study the characteristics of neurocognitive functioning in older adults. Older adults are welcome to visit our research centre and contribute their time, effort and insights towards this scientific research. Individuals complete a variety of neuropsychological tasks, augmented reality games, questionnaires and neurophysiological assessments, such as electroencephalogram; EEG).
Participation in our studies will help us to obtain a better understanding of the brain changes that occur in later life. This knowledge will aid the development of diagnostic tools for identifying people at higher risk of MCI/dementia, and lifestyle interventions aimed at preserving cognitive function.
For more information about our research, or to participate, contact us: ageingmemoryproject(at)gmail(dot)com.
We want to better understand the underlying characteristics of cognitive impairment in older adults. Our goal is to investigate cognitive performance in a range of domains, including memory, attention and spatial navigation. In doing so, we aim to identify biomarkers predictive of impairment in the ageing brain.
We also want to investigate the concept of cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve is a person’s ability to cope with the neurological effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It is thought that a person’s life experiences (such as educational or occupational attainments, regular participation in mentally stimulating activities and physical activities) may build their level of cognitive reserve. However, this concept is still not fully understood. Our aim is to further investigate the concept of cognitive reserve and identify possible brain networks or patterns of brain activity that might be responsible for cognitive reserve.
This work encompasses the following projects:
– Identifying individualised EEG biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older adults using a novel gamified approach and wireless EEG. Here, the lead researcher is Dr Francesca Farina, supervised by Prof Whelan and co-funded by BrainWaveBank.
– Identifying a digital biomarker of Alzheimer’s Disease using Augmented Reality. The lead researcher for this project is Laura Rai, supervised by Prof. Whelan and funded by the Irish Research Council and Altoida.