The lack of any effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, despite over four decades of intensive effort, suggests a heightened need to identify factors that can either prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Some of the most promising leads occur early in life — during prenatal development and early childhood — yet information of this sort, worldwide, is extremely limited.
Investigators at Brown are following 720 infants — now in their 60s — in a novel ground-breaking longitudinal study of risks for Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Selected from a larger group of 17,000 births in Providence and Boston, the study includes neuropsychological testing, blood biomarkers, structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and survey questionnaires to understand neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the risk for and resilience to Alzheimer's disease pathology among older adults.
This unique design allows the researchers to:
- Investigate changes in multiple domains of cognitive function among persons who are and are not in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's disease;
- Identify, characterize and distinguish Alzheimer's-related from normative age-related cognitive decline;
- Investigate the mechanisms and lifestyle factors associated with the critical transition from healthy to pathological aging.