<< Back

2018 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant (AARG)

Targeting Neural Circuits for Treating Alzheimer's disease

Can restoring the function of specific nerve cell circuits in the brain reverse Alzheimer’s?

Juan Song
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC - United States


Researchers are trying to understand the mechanisms of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s. Studies show that damage to the nerve cell function and their networks in different brain regions could contribute to impaired cognitive function in Alzheimer’s. Based on these findings, scientists have begun investigating the possibility of correcting the affected nerve cell networks as a new therapeutic approach.

In particular, a network affected in Alzheimer’s involves connectivity between two brain regions – medial septum and hippocampus. The hippocampus is a special brain region vital for learning and memory and is especially vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. Preliminary results from Dr. Juan Song’s study have shown that removing the connectivity between these two brain regions affects the network functionality between the regions.

Research Plan

Using genetically engineered Alzheimer’s-like mouse models, Dr. Juan Song proposes to perform a couple of experiments - First, the researchers plan to use microscopy based techniques to mark and map the nerve cells from the two brain regions to see how and where they physically connect with one another with the progression of brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s. This experiment will provide new information about the role of network connectivity between the two regions.

Secondly, Dr. Song plans to investigate whether activation of the nerve cells between the two brain regions during the progression of Alzheimer’s could prevent the network dysfunction and restore its functionality.


An understanding of the mechanisms for how nerve cell connectivity is affected between the two special brain regions may reveal new therapeutic approaches to reverse this damage and slow the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s.

Back to Top