The most salient and debilitating aspect of dementia is memory loss. Unfortunately, memory loss is also the most difficult to quantify because it relies on doctor-administered tests that cannot be repeated very often. Without frequent and accurate measurements, it is difficult for clinicians to make reliable diagnoses, for patients and their caretakers to prepare in advance and for researchers to better understand the relationship between brain changes and cognitive decline.
This project will recruit 100 patients who are just beginning to experience memory loss as well as 100 healthy controls. Their memory function will be measured weekly through a brief, online test that can be accessed through any device and performed in less than 10 minutes. Data from the test will be fed to a computer model that simulates how fast memories fade in each patient’s brain, and the parameter that represents each patient’s speed of forgetting will be tracked over time. While the model simulates the patient, it also adapts the difficulty of the weekly task, ensuring it remains engaging but doable as memory declines.
The weekly estimates will provide the first, detailed trajectories of how fast memory declines over time in healthy aging and in different forms of dementia. The trajectory of the rate of forgetting will be used to analyze MRI data, producing precise associations between different types of memory loss and different types of brain damage.
September 1, 2021 — September 30, 2023
Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions
Online/remote/apps/social media, Outpatient