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2020 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)

Developing an AI Based Lifestyle Intervention for Prevention of Dementia

Can a smartwatch-based lifestyle intervention reduce risk of cognitive decline in individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s?

Yoshimi Fukuoka, Ph.D.
University of California
San Francisco, CA - United States


Many researchers believe that there is not a single cause of Alzheimer’s but rather it develops over time as a result of multiple factors such as lifestyle, environment and genetics. Preventing or slowing disease progression may be more successful if implemented before extensive and irreversible brain changes have occurred. Studies suggest that brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s may begin a decade or more before symptoms such as changes in memory, thinking and reasoning appear. Based on these findings, Dr. Yoshimi Fukuoka believes that a multidimensional approach to healthy lifestyle (such as regular physical activity, healthy diet and cognitive stimulation) could impact the development of Alzheimer’s and other dementia later in life.

Research Plan

Based on prior studies that have shown physical activity interventions to be effective in promoting brain health, Dr. Fukuoka and colleagues have developed a digital technology-based lifestyle intervention called DELIGHT.  DELIGHT focuses on increasing daily physical activity and reducing sedentary time to assess the impact of these interventions on cognitive function. To conduct their study,  Dr. Yoshima Fukuoka and colleagues will recruit 50 older adults with MCI (a state of subtle memory loss that may precede Alzheimer’s) to participate in the DELIGHT program. Over a five-month period, the participants will wear a smart wristwatch — called Omron HeartGuide that can continuously monitor changes in blood pressure and physical activity levels. The researchers will access the data via a remote server. During the study period, Dr. Fukuoka’s team will administer several cognitive tests to the participants. The researchers will then use advanced computer science approaches (called “Artificial Intelligence”) to analyze the various test results and determine how lifestyle-related changes may predict brain changes such as  memory and cognition in  these individuals with MCI.


The study results may help us better understand how lifestyle factors may impact brain changes and better understand strategies to help slow or prevent brain changes in individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s.

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