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2014 Biomarkers Across Neurodegenerative Diseases Grant (BAND)

Degeneration of the human connectome: brain networks in ADNI and PPMI

Gautam Prasad, Ph.D.
USC/University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA - United States

Nerve cells in the brain connect to each other in defined patterns, creating networks which are essential for brain functioning, such as controlling movement, learning, or retrieving memories. Recent evidence suggests that the impairments in brain function that accompany Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease may be caused by damage to specific brain networks.

Other evidence increasingly suggests that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease may be related and share some common features – including overlap of symptoms, particularly in the later stages. Therefore, as we continue to develop diagnostic tools and possible treatments, it is essential that we have accurate and reliable ways to distinguish these diseases from each other and from other changes that may occur to the brain during normal aging.

Gautam Prasad, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed work to identify and measure the changes in brain network connectivity occurring during the initiation and progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. For this work, the researchers will use existing databases of brain images from people with either condition and compare these to brain images of people who are cognitively and functionally healthy. They will use sophisticated computer programs to map changes in the connectivity of brain networks. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify network changes specific to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and other brain conditions, and to monitor the progression of these diseases during clinical studies of potential treatments.

Prior PI: Gautam Prasad
Current PI: Paul Thompson

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