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2013 Grants - Hoffman
Effects of Direct Focal Stimulation on Memory and Neural Function
Kari L. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
One region of the brain that is especially vulnerable to degeneration in Alzheimer's disease is the hippocampus and the nerve pathways going into and out of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is known to be important for learning and memory. In a recent clinical trial, people with Alzheimer's disease received a surgical implant that stimulated one of the input pathways of the hippocampus, known as the fornix. The trial found that stimulation of the fornix slowed declines in brain function in some people. The mechanisms responsible for this effect are not completely understood.
Kari L. Hoffman, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed to study how fornix stimulation affects the brain and memory in an animal model with a brain structure similar to humans. They will train the animals to perform a task involving visual search. The researchers will then study how fornix stimulation affects the activity of the nervous system, especially the hippocampus, and memory. These studies will provide valuable information about how fornix stimulation affects the hippocampus, and may allow researchers to determine the pattern of stimulation that best preserves memory and brain function in people with Alzheimer's disease.