3 September 2019

What is the value of including cognitive assessments in the quantification of vascular and neuronal pathology in dementia using PET and MRI?

Can you tell us more about yourselves?

Dr. Laura Parkes is a Reader at the University of Manchester and PI on the EPSRC-funded project ‘Quantification of vascular and neuronal pathology in dementia using PET and MRI’. Lauren Scott is a PhD student running the study. We are both physicists working in the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology which houses ‘Manchester Neuroimaging’ a vibrant community of neuroimaging researchers.

What is your research question?

Current research into Alzheimer’s disease is focussed on the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles and loss of brain tissue in neocortex and hippocampus. However, many patients with Alzheimer’s disease also have vascular pathology and there is increasing interest in the potential interaction between the typical Alzheimer’s pathology and cerebrovascular pathology.

We are currently running a study to test the sensitivity of novel simultaneous PET-MR imaging measurements to both neuronal and microvascular aspects of early dementia. In addition to imaging, volunteers with mild cognitive impairment and cognitively normal age matched controls will undergo cognitive testing using the CANTAB battery.

Why did you choose CANTAB for your project?

We chose CANTAB since the extensive neuropsychological battery covers a range of cognitive domains and can be adapted for different disorders/conditions. The automated delivery and ease of use means less variance between our participants and is also great for our team who have limited experience of cognitive testing. The cognitive scores will be used to support PET-MR imaging parameters, and to track cognitive changes with time when volunteers are repeat tested in the future.

What has been your experience of the support and training team at Cambridge Cognition?

We have great support from the CANTAB customer service team- our liaison, Emily, is always very quick to reply to any queries or problems we encounter. We also found the free training session via WebEx extremely useful– it made setting up the platform and familiarising ourselves with the functions much more efficient.

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Dr Laura Parkes and Lauren Scott

University of Manchester

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