INS Arthur Benton Mid-Career Research Award Recipients
The prevailing hypothesis about the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) suggests a cascade of biological events initiated by abnormal beta-amyloid processing that leads tau-related neuronal dysfunction, neurodegeneration, and dementia. This conceptualization has directly informed current diagnostic schemes, which have evolved from diagnosing AD based on the characterization of a clinical syndrome to diagnosing AD based on the presence of amyloid and tau biological markers alone.
Since the advent of MRI, rapid advances in structural and functional imaging have presented significant opportunities for the role of the traditional neuropsychological assessment in epilepsy surgery programs. This presentation examines the ways in which the role of clinical neuropsychology has evolved and adapted in response to these challenges over the past 25 years.
Fueled in part by these findings, our laboratory has developed and (over two decades, elaborated) a cognitive neuroanatomical model of the mechanisms and architecture of a distributed two-stream network critical to the representation and selection of object-related actions. Called the “Two Action Systems Plus (2AS+)” framework, the model posits a complementary role for stored object manipulation knowledge (“action semantics”) and online computations, and specifies the neurocognitive substrates of task-relevant action selection.
Mid-life cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVD-RFs) such as hypertension (HTN) and diabetes (DM) and associated cerebrovascular disease contribute to late-life risk and development of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Dr. Alzheimer himself was one of the first to speculate on the role of cerebrovascular disease on brain aging. The US population has changed since initial work in this area was conducted. For example, ~55 million Hispanics live in the US, representing 17% of the population; these numbers will more than double by 2060 to ~130 million or 31% of the US population.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system characterized by relapses and gradual worsening of chronic neurological disability. Charcot described cognitive and personality changes in MS patients in 1877, but it would take a century for the quality and frequency of such impairment to be elucidated by Rao and others. Cognitive impairment occurs in 50-60% of MS patients, and dementia in roughly 15%. While the demyelinating WM lesion is the pathologic hallmark of MS, neuropsychological deficits are more robustly correlated with brain atrophy.
It is now well established that up to 70% of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) suffer from cognitive impairment (Chiaravalloti & DeLuca, 2008). Such impairments can have a significant impact on everyday functional activity in persons with MS. Given the frequency and degree of cognitive involvement in persons with MS, and how it affects so many aspects of a person’s life (e.g., vocational, familial, social, emotional, cultural) the need for cognitive rehabilitation therapies and programs is clear.
In assessing human behavior, psychologists attempt to approximate the real life experiences and functional abilities of their subjects. This is perhaps most challenging for higher-order cognitive capacities, including memory and executive functions. Changes in these functions are central to society’s most costly clinical disorders, such as the dementias, neuropsychiatric conditions, and traumatic brain injury. Improving assessment of such disorders requires an interdisciplinary approach combining cognitive sciences, neuropsychology, and multimodal neuroimaging.