Cognitive and Brain Aging
With aging population, the global burden of dementia is a grand challenge. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and currently there is no medication to stop or reverse the AD process highlighting the importance of early identification and prevention. Knowledge about the protective and risk factors of cognitive impairment, dementia and AD is important for early identification of high risk individuals. Cognitive decline is associated with aging, but the consistent finding is that there is a great heterogeneity in cognitive trajectories throughout the advanced age. It is not known why everyone with AD pathology does not have cognitive deficits and many without AD pathology are demented. A big challenge is that we know very little about cognitive and brain aging in the oldest-old (those who are 90 years or older), the fastest growing population segment in many countries.
Our multidisciplinary approach to study cognitive aging includes epidemiology, behavior and molecular genetics, neuroimaging, neurology, and neuropsychology. We use longitudinal population-based older Finnish Twin Cohort (FTC) study to investigate genetic and middle age protective and risk factors of cognitive impairment and dementia across the old age. We collaborate with the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging (VETSA) to study cognition and brain in late middle age. We use Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) data to study mild cognitive impairment and conversion to AD.