University of Connecticut

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Psychology Colloquium

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
3:30pm – 4:30pm

Storrs Campus
Bousfield Psychology Bulding, Room 160

Speaker: Peter Snyder, Lifespan Hospital System and Brown University

Title: “Identification of Pre-Symptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease in Older Adults”

Abstract:

If the presence of significant cerebral amyloidosis constitutes a hallmark sign of prodromal AD in otherwise healthy elderly subjects (cf. Lim et al., 2012), then these very same individuals should also be experiencing deleterious changes in central acetylcholinergic tone as well (Sabri et al., 2008; Grön et al., 2006; Grothe et al., 2010; Schliebs & Arendt, 2011), which might possibly be “unmasked” by intentionally clocking muscarinic cholinergice receptors for a short period of time. The goal of my current research is to substantially increase the sensitivity of a specific neuropsychological assay to detect prodromal cholinergic tone defects in pre-symptomatic individuals, by co-administration of very low-dose scopolamine. By pairing as well-selected cognitive assay, with a reversible and well-tolerated pharmacologic challenge, my goal is to develop and to validate a new “cognitive stress test” for pre-symptomatic AD. I have hypothesized that subjects who show a stronger response (greater elicitation of transient cognitive deficits) on this pharmacologic challenge will demonstrate greater CNS binding for a PET radiotracer that is specific for amyloidosis, and greater change over an 18 month follow-up period on serial cognitive assessments, as compared to those subjects who demonstrate a less substantial response on the cognitive stress test. Based on prior imaging data in healthy older, community-dwelling samples of subjects, we expect that roughly one-third of our sample, who undergo initial PET imaging, will demonstrate evidence of substantial cerebral amyloidosis (Rowe et al., 2010; Villemagne et al., 2008). We further hypothesize that these same individuals will exhibit a more deleterious transient response to the pharmacologic challenge that we propose, as the aggregation of cerebral beta-amyloid appears to trigger cholinergic dysfunction (Schliebs & Arendt, 2011). The cognitive stress test, then, is hypothesized to be correlated with – and predictive of – the more invasive and costly PET imaging procedure, as well as being predictive of continued cognitive decline over an 18 month period.

Contact:

Whitney Tabor at whitney.tabor@uconn.edu

Psychology Department (primary), Psychology - Undergraduate Program, UConn Master Calendar

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