The CoGeNT Lab

The COGENT Lab is currently focused on two projects:

  1. The memory and behavioral deficits that occur during the transition from normal aging to Alzheimer's disease (AD) or non-AD dementia. We study 3 groups of individuals; healthy seniors, those with Mild Cognitive Impairment (a diagnosis that encompasses both memory-predominant and other-cognitive predominant deficits that are not severe enough to be considered dementia) and those with early stage AD.
  2. Developing a better understanding of where and how brain damage to higher-level pain processing regions in late-stage, severe AD, along with damage to self-recognition and self-awareness regulation may lead to the unreliable expression of subjective pain.

We use several different techniques alone and in combination to obtain information about brain structure and function non-invasively:

  • Cognitive and behavioral (psychometric) testing, to evaluate current and premorbid mental abilities
  • Volumetric MRI, to examine structural damage (atrophy) of brain regions associated with specific cognitive and behavioral impairment.
  • Functional MRI, to visualize neural network differences between healthy and dysfunctional brains
  • Diffusion tensor MRI, to visualize the structural integrity of these network connections
  • Fluor-deoxyglucose PET, to examine the metabolic health of different brain regions.
  • Amyloid-tracer PET, to identify individuals whose brains contain deposits of B-amyloid, a substance strongly associated with the eventual development of Alzheimer's disease.

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