Typically people’s thinking abilities slow as they get older. This is normal. However, in some there is a progressive and irreversible decline in cognitive abilities that interferes with ability to remain independent at home, called dementia.
There are different diseases that can result in dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease and blood vessel disease. Different people are able to withstand some brain disease to varying extents. This is called “cognitive reserve”. People with greater cognitive reserve still get diseases that cause dementia but they are able to overcome the disease for longer and remain symptom free.
Higher cognitive ability in childhood and more education are known factors that boost cognitive reserve and these are closely related in that brighter children tend to stay in full-time education longer.
Our cognitive ageing research team use brain scans and life-course information to understand how brains change as we age and which factors can be modified to protect against dementia.
We also study how cognition and lifecourse experiences influence outcomes such as depression and use detailed brain scans to study:
- Computerised measurement of brain lesions, their risk factors and effects
- How artificial intelligence can be used to analyse many different types of brain scan information to predict cognition and cognitive reserve
- How brain signal information and genetic markers can be used to predict brain health
- How people’s overall heath and brain health are influenced by taking many prescription medications
- How brain scans can be used to predict who will respond to new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease