Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia is characterized by an irreversible, progressive, neuropsychiatric condition that affects the individual’s cognition and function and can result in costly long-term care. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and an estimated 6.5 million older Americans are living with this incurable brain disorder that causes dementia and ultimately robs people of their ability to carry out everyday tasks. When the disease is diagnosed early, medications and cognitive therapies can be used to delay its progression and provide better quality of life to these individuals and their families. However, diagnosing Alzheimer’s and other dementias in its early stages is challenging as reliable biomarkers are not yet widely available. 

Luciana Mascarenhas Fonseca, PhD, conducts research to address questions related to the maximization of cognitive health during the aging process, with an underlying emphasis on high-risk, racially, and ethnically diverse populations. Her current research is focused on the development of non-invasive early neuropsychological biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Evaluating the relationships between cognitive predictive measures and neurodegeneration may help to identify those at greatest risk of developing dementia, establish effective interventions to mitigate the impact of this degenerative condition, and identify candidates for primary and secondary prevention trials.