This observational study seeks to better identify older adults who are at high risk for progression to Alzheimer's disease several years before they develop dementia symptoms. Investigators aim to create a "stress test" for Alzheimer's, similar in concept to a cardiac stress test for heart disease.
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Investigators will see if a new "stress test" in cognitively normal older adults can identify those most likely to progress to Alzheimer's dementia. Researchers believe they can increase the sensitivity of memory and problem-solving tests by using a very small dose of a medication, scopolamine (a medication approved to treat motion sickness), that reduces certain chemical activity in the brain that changes during the earliest stages of the disease. The stress-test results will be compared to the results of PET imaging scans of the brain, which can identify brain changes indicating the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Participants will make a day-long initial visit to the clinic that includes tests of memory and thinking, an injection of very low-dose scopolamine, and repeats of the memory and thinking tests at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8 hours after taking the medication. They will make shorter visits 9 and 18 months later. Researchers predict that partcipants who show mild but measurable changes in memory and thinking will be the same participants who had stronger results on the stress test at the first study visit.
At all three study visits, researchers will obtain measurements of the brain's electrical activity, using a single dry electrode that is placed on the forehead, and will take pictures of the eye and retina using infrared and blue light. A secondary goal of the study is to search for evidence in the retina of the same protein seen with PET imaging of the brain in people at high risk for Alzheimer's. Finally, a small sample of saliva will be collected to see which participants have a genetic risk for the disease.
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Geolocation is 41.816736, -71.4091563
Rhode Island Hospital
Peter J. Snyder, PhD
Sr. Vice President & Chief Research Officer, Lifespan
Peter J. Snyder, PhD