Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia among older adults at the age of 65 or above. The number of persons with cognitive impairment but no dementia is even higher. Currently, there is no cure for AD; early detection of the disease is primarily based on neuropsychological assessment. In the past two decades or so, studies have begun to suggest that changes in sensory and/or motor function are associated with AD, in particular at the early or even pre-symptomatic stages, and that examining sensory and motor changes in the context of cognitive impairments and AD may provide us with fresh perspectives regarding the etiology, early detection, assessment, and treatment of AD and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Division of Neuroscience plans to hold an exploratory workshop in Bethesda, MD on August 9-10, 2010 to assess the potential of changes in sensory and/or motor function as possible predictors for the development of cognitive dysfunction and dementia. Participants will include experts from the fields of sensory systems, motor systems, cognitive aging, and dementia research. Topics of interest will include: 1) sensory or motor modalities that would be suitable for development as appropriate early biomarkers for cognitive dysfunction and dementia; 2) molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms that underlie the associations of sensory or motor changes with cognitive impairment and dementia; 3) technologies appropriate for early detection of sensory or motor changes related to cognitive impairment and dementia; and 4) early intervention strategies aimed at preserving sensory and/or motor function in the hope that this would delay the onset of and/or the progression to cognitive dysfunction and dementia.
Dr. Wen G. Chen