Projects

CHeBA Longitudinal Studies

CHeBA Research Project: Sydney Memory and Ageing Study
The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS) investigates rates and predictors of health and cognitive decline in older adults. MAS is especially interested in when/why normally functioning adults who show evidence of memory or cognitive decline either progress to dementia or improve.
Description The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS), is a longitudinal study which began in 2005. The study aims to determine the effects of ageing on cognition over time and what predicts and what protects against cognitive decline and dementia. MAS is one of the largest longitudinal studies of this kind in Australia and has resulted in more than 120 scientific publications and many national and international collaborations. Read the latest blog post Participate in a CHeBA study Read the latest publication Design and Method At the baseline assessment from 2005 to 2007, 1037 non-demented individuals aged 70-90 were recruited from two areas of Sydney, following a random approach to 8914 individuals on the electoral roll. They underwent detailed neuropsychological and medical assessments and donated a blood sample for clinical chemistry, proteomics and genomics. A knowledgeable informant was also interviewed. Structural MRI… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Sydney Centenarian Study
The Sydney Centenarian Study is a longitudinal project that explores the genetic and environmental determinants of extreme longevity. The study examines the cognition, health, care needs, brain structure and genetics of Australia’s oldest old.
Aims The age composition of Australia’s population is projected to change considerably over the coming decades with elderly Australians the fastest growing proportion of the population. This is particularly true of centenarians, the exceptional group of individuals who reach the age of 100. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in June 2015 there were 29,612 individuals in Australia aged 95-99 years old and 4,279 who were aged 100 or more. It is estimated that there will be 12,000 centenarians in Australia by 2020 and 50,000 by 2050. The number of centenarians worldwide is estimated to increase 15-fold to 2.2 million by 2050. Despite the rapid ageing of our population there have been only a few population-based studies of centenarians and near-centenarians internationally, and none in Australia. The study of exceptionally long lived individuals will shed light on the determinants of successful aging, both environmental and genetic… read more
CHeBA Longitudinal Study: Older Australian Twins Study
Since 2007, the longitudinal Older Australian Twins Study has investigated the genetic and environmental contributions to healthy ageing, in particular ageing in the absence of brain dysfunction and disease, in twins aged 65 years and beyond.
Description The Older Australian Twins Study is a longitudinal study investigating healthy brain ageing in older twins (65+ years). Healthy ageing is characterised by low levels of disability, high cognitive and functional capacity, and an active engagement in life. The most important ingredient of healthy ageing is a healthy brain, bereft of age-related diseases and dysfunction. Brain ageing and brain diseases are determined by multiple genetic factors that interact with environmental influences. Since identical twins share 100% of their genes, whereas non-identical twins share half the genetic information, detailed comparisons of these two groups has the potential to discover new genes involved in cognitive decline or resilience. OATS commenced in New South Wales in January 2007, in Queensland in December 2007, and in Victoria in February 2008. Since the OATS study started we have followed our twin volunteers up every two years to check on… read more
CHeBA Research Project - Maintain Your Brain
Maintain Your Brain is a randomised controlled trial of multiple online interventions designed to target modifiable risk factors for dementia in general and Alzheimer's Disease in particular.
Description Maintain Your Brain is a randomised controlled trial of multiple online interventions designed to target modifiable risk factors for dementia in general and AD in particular. Risk factors to be addressed are physical inactivity, cognitive inactivity, depression/anxiety, overweight and obesity, and poor dietary habits. Up to four intervention modules (physical activity, nutrition, brain training, and peace of mind) will be administered based on individual risk profiles. All activities and assessments will be conducted on a computer with internet access via the Maintain Your Brain eHealth platform. Maintain Your Brain will invite over 8,000 individuals through the 45 and Up Study to participate in the trial. These participants will be aged 55-77 years and will not be diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis. Maintain Your Brain will run for three years with annual assessments measuring risk factors and… read more

All CHeBA Projects

CHeBA Research Project: Australian Neuropsychological Normative Study of Older Persons
The Australian Neuropsychological Normative Study of Older Persons will provide much needed Australian normative data for commonly used neuropsychological tests and cognitive screening instruments in older persons including the oldest-old, near-Centenarians and Centenarians.
Description Some cognitive abilities ‘naturally’ decline as we get older. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increases with older age. Therefore, distinguishing dementia and mild neurocognitive impairment from normal age‐related cognitive change is a major challenge for clinicians and researchers. Neuropsychological assessment plays a critical role in detecting subtle cognitive changes present in the early phase of a neurodegenerative disorder that may be missed during routine clinical evaluation. Neuropsychological assessment incorporates the administration of validated and standardised psychometric tests to carefully assess intelligence, memory, processing speed, spatial and verbal abilities, higher conceptual thinking and other cognitive abilities. Comparison of an individual’s test scores to a normative reference group is used by neuropsychologists and researchers to indicate whether a person’s performance is at the… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Brain Stimulation and Cognitive Training
This study aims to directly investigate whether computer brain training when combined with mild brain stimulation is better than computer brain training alone.
Description Recent brain stimulation research suggests that mild brain stimulation (ie. tDCS) when given during performance of a cognitive (memory) task in a single session improves performance. Also patients who have had a stroke learn how to do certain 'hands-on' tasks better when participants receive a course of brain stimulation treatment. There is research that computerised brain training benefits people with memory problems (ie. MCI or Mild Cognitive Impairment). People with aMCI experience mild difficulties with their memory but are otherwise functioning well in their day to day activities. Usually the individual notices that their memory has recently got worse compared to a few years ago. They may experience more difficulty remembering names, appointments or where they put something. People with aMCI are at increased risk of future dementia. Aims This study aims to directly investigate whether computer brain training when combined… read more
CogSCAN - Cognition Study of Computer-Administered Neuropsychological tests in Seniors
CogSCAN is the first independent, systematic evaluation of four prominent and widely used computerised cognitive assessment instruments in healthy older adults and in people with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
Description Dementia is a major health problem with 200 Australians diagnosed every day and at least as many having mild cognitive impairment which often precedes dementia. Early diagnosis is critical for interventions yet many older adults at risk do not receive a timely diagnosis. Objective assessment of cognitive abilities is essential for accurate diagnosis at mild or early stages. However, there are insufficient specialist trained personnel and resources to meet the demand for cognitive assessments. Computerised neuropsychological assessments (CNAs) have received considerable attention in recent years as they have the potential to enable large scale cognitive screening and monitoring of functioning. Moreover, they are time- and cost-effective, accessible, precise and can be administered by people with less expertise. But can CNAs improve timely diagnosis of dementia over traditional pen and paper tests? There is limited information about… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Dementia Prevalence Across 17 Population-Based Centenarian Studies from 11 Countries
This project aims to define global dementia prevalence in centenarians and near-centenarians (95+) using uniform diagnostic criteria and explore universal risk and protective factors for dementia.
Description The International Centenarian Consortium of Dementia (ICC-Dementia) aims to explore factors that predict successful ageing into the 11th decade of life that are robust across international cohorts through international collaboration and data sharing. This project is motivated by the variation in approaches for diagnosing dementia and cognitive impairment across studies and the under-studied questions including the global prevalence of dementia in persons aged 95 and above and the risk and protective factors for dementia across ethno-regional groups of long-lived individuals. Aims Define global dementia prevalence in centenarians and near-centenarians (95+) using uniform diagnostic criteria. Identify and examine risk and protective factors for dementia, cognitive and functional impairments, and determine whether their effects vary between centenarian studies. Approaches Develop and apply a protocol to harmonise neuropsychological… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Diagnosis and Prediction of MCI and AD using Pattern Rec­ognition Methods
This project examines the diagnosis and prediction of MCI and AD using pattern rec­ognition and data-mining methods.
Description Diagnosis and prediction of MCI and AD using pattern recognition and data-mining methods. Early and accurate diagnosis and prediction of MCI and AD is essential for developing new treatments which may prevent AD, or slow its progression. However, this is particularly challenging due to the subtlety of brain changes at the very early stages of the disease. Pattern recognition and data-mining are essentially the study of how ma­chines can observe the environment, learn to distinguish relevant patterns, and make decisions about the observed patterns. The study of pattern recognition and data-mining is an inter­disciplinary field combining areas such as mathematics, statistics, engineering, computer science, psychology and physiology. Human beings are particularly apt at recognis­ing patterns, from an early age they are able to recognise a face, spoken words and written texts. Extensive research has been conducted to enable machines to… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Finding Genetic Variants for Ageing-Related Measures using GWAS - Genome-wide Association Studies
Many complex human traits have an underlying genetic basis. We use genome-wide association tests to search across the genome to find the specific genetic variants associated with complex traits, such as cognitive performance, brain structure, blood protein levels and grip strength.
Description Most complex traits, such as blood protein levels and memory performance, have a genetic component and many genes are thought to be involved. In genome-wide association studies, known as GWAS, we test whether millions of genetic variants are associated with a measure of interest, such as blood protein levels. These studies are undertaken within CHeBA, with other national and international studies and in collaboration with international consortia. Aims To identify genetic variants associated with a variety of measures, such as blood protein levels and cognitive performance. Design and Method Genetic variants were genotyped using genome-wide genotyping arrays in participants from the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (n~925), the Older Australian Twins Study (n~539) and the Sydney Centenarian Study (n~256). Statistical tests are undertaken to find genetic variants associated with many different age-related outcomes including… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Grey Matter Volume Changes in Normal Ageing and MCI
This project explores the different grey matter change patterns of normal ageing and MCI.
Description MCI represents a transitional state in which individuals show impairment of cognitive function, but retain relatively intact global cognition. We explored the different grey matter change patterns of normal ageing and MCI. Project Members Associate Professor Wei Wen, Associate Professor, CHeBA Dr Jiyang Jiang, Postdoctoral Fellow, CHeBA Associate Professor Tao Liu, PhD Associate Professor, School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering International Research Institute for Multidisciplinary Science, Beihang University Dr Wanlin Zhu, Tiantan Image Research Center, China National Clinical Research Center for Neurological Diseases, Beijing, China
Amyloid PET in the Older Australian Twins Study - CHeBA Research Project
A hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain, which can be detected using PET scanning.
Description A hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which typically starts many years before symptoms are observed. We used amyloid PET brain scans to investigate this plaque build-up in pairs of twins at risk of developing AD. The data is currently undergoing analysis to calculate the heritability of these plaques - that is, to determine to what degree genes play a role. We are also investigating potentially modifiable environmental factors that may be contributing to the build-up of plaques and the associated changes in memory and thinking. Project Members Professor Perminder Sachdev, Project Lead, CHeBA Professor Christopher Rowe, Nuclear Medicine Specialist, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Centre for PET, University of Melbourne, Austin Health Associate Professor Wei Wen, Head of the Neuroimaging Laboratory, CHeBA Dr Anbupalam Thalamuthu, Biostatistician, CHeBA Dr Rebecca… read more
CHeBA Research Project: Morphology of Cortical Surface: Cortical Folding Pattern and Sulcal Width
The cortical folding process begins very early, starting from 10 weeks of foetal life. Therefore, alterations in cortical development can provide us with important clues about the resulting morphology.
Description The cortical folding process begins very early, starting from 10 weeks of foetal life. Therefore, alterations in cortical development can provide us with important clues about the resulting morphology. Such morphological changes in the brain are associated with ageing, and this is possibly related to the thinning of the gyri, due to reduction in gyral grey matter and white mat­ter. Sulcal widening is commonly used by radiologists as a measure of cortical atrophy in the clinical setting. Project Members Associate Professor Wei Wen, Associate Professor, CHeBA Dr Jiyang Jiang, Postdoctoral Fellow, CHeBA Associate Professor Tao Liu, PhD Associate Professor, School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering International Research Institute for Multidisciplinary Science, Beihang University
CHeBA Research Project: Normal Brain Ageing, Alzheimer's Disease and the Role of Apolipoproteins
Apolipoproteins, a family of lipid associated proteins in plasma are best known for their association with lipoprotein particles, and cholesterol transport and clearance. In the brain several members regulate inflammatory processes, synaptic function and associate with cognitive function.
Description Blood is not only a repository for a variety of disease biomarkers, but its constituents can also reflect the status of the body as it ages, responds to lifestyle and environmental impacts such as nutrition, exercise and education, and reflects changes within the body such as response to disease. While current blood-based assays of specific markers such as Aβ peptides have been disappointing, there is a wealth of as yet untapped information in blood which holds promise to: Distinguish profiles of normal ageing from disease trajectories, Identify biochemical targets for lifestyle intervention, and Identify potential causative and/ or protective factors for disease onset. To date, we have used cutting edge proteomics technology to identify dysregulation of several plasma protein family groups in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). We have found that levels of apolipoprotein family members are correlated… read more