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2010 Grants - Bibbig
Deficits of Neuronal Oscillations and Cognition in Alzheimer's Disease
Andrea Bibbig, Ph.D.
Research Foundation, SUNY
Brooklyn, New York
2010 New Investigator Research Grant
Brain cells communicate with one another using electrical signals. Two such signals are known as gamma and beta frequency oscillations. Both appear to be vital in promoting episodic memory, which involves the ability to recall past events. People with Alzheimer's disease typically have lower recorded gamma and beta oscillations on electroencephalography (EEG) tests.
Andrea Bibbig, Ph.D., and colleagues—along with scientists from two other laboratories—have found that gamma and beta oscillations were reduced in mice engineered to develop Alzheimer-like symptoms. These mice eventually developed cognitive deficits. The researchers also devised a sophisticated digital model of the hippocampus brain region, which is affected early on by Alzheimer's. Using this model, they discovered that the loss of brain cells and synapses (the tiny channels through which brain cells communicate) can lead to reduced gamma and beta oscillations.
For their proposed study, Dr. Bibbig and colleagues plan to conduct a larger analysis of neuronal oscillations. They hope to identify mechanisms for restoring normal electrical activity in their computerized hippocampal model and in Alzheimer-like mice. For example, the team will test whether modifying the activity of glutamate and serotonin—two chemical messengers in the brain—can restore beta and gamma oscillations. The team will also examine whether these mechanisms can improve cognitive activity in the mice.
Dr. Bibbig's study could help clarify the role of altered electrical activity in the development of Alzheimer's disease. It could also lead to new treatments for this disorder.