Sous-types de connectivité fonctionnelle cérébrale comme facteurs de risque de la maladie d'Alzheimer

 

Pierre Bellec

Centre de recherche  de l'Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2017-2018

As the number of elderly citizens rises in the Canadian population, neurodegenerative diseases related to aging are reaching epidemic levels. At present, it is not possible for clinicians to predict accurately if and when a patient with no symptoms will experience debilitating symptoms such as dementia. An early, reliable diagnosis could however dramatically increase the effectiveness of current and future interventions, such as lifestyle changes in exercise and nutrition.

Establishing an early diagnosis is very challenging because neurodegeneration does not affect brain connections at the same speed in all patients. In addition, normal brain connections vary across individuals, similar to hand dominance where some subjects are more left-handed and others more right handed. Some brains seem to be better equipped to resist the progress of neurodegeneration than others.

I propose to investigate the connections of the temporal cortex, a brain area important for  language and memory, using magnetic resonance imaging technologies. I will apply statistical models to large and diverse groups of people in order to characterize subgroups of subjects with similar temporal lobe connections. I will specifically investigate whether these subtypes of brain connectivity can predict the evolution of memory and language in healthy elderly who are at risk of AD because of their familial history, and if they can predict cognitive symptoms across many types of dementia.

Once validated longitudinally, subtypes of temporal lobe connectivity may play an important role in personalized medicine. My research program will provide clinicians a means to identify individuals at high risk for progressing to Alzheimer's dementia, helping them to find efficient interventions.