Connectomics in Brain Aging and Dementia

Project Overview & Components

Research focus

  • Apply HCP protocol to 400 individuals age 50-89 years: 200 cognitively normal, 125 with Alzheimer’s Disease, 50 with Mild Cognitive Impairment, and 25 with subjective complaints of memory impairment.
  • Test the hypothesis that the expression of cognitive dysfunction in the elderly is the result of two independent processes — the first is the neuropathology associated with AD, and the second the neuropathological changes as a consequence of vascular disease. 

Data being collected

  • Standard HCP demographics
  • Imaging: The CBA project will collect imaging data for structural, functional (resting state and task) and diffusion using a Siemens 3T Prisma 64-channel. Functional MRI will include resting state, and the HCP memory and motor task-based fMRI protocols. Additional imaging studies include Amyloid imaging with Pittsburgh Compound B (PET-PIB) and Magnetoencephalography (task and task-free states) (MEG).  Of the 400 participants, 200 individuals (100 patients/100 controls) will undergo PET imaging for β amyloid and magnetoencephalography (using the HCP protocol). 100 of these individuals (25 SCI, 25 MCI, 50 Normal), half of whom (on a group-by-group basis) will have amyloid deposits.  These will be rescanned 24 months later. 
  • Clinical: The CBA will acquire critical data relative to both vascular risk and protective factors including: diet, exercise, body habitus, standardized blood pressures, inflammatory markers (CRP, IL-6, TNF-α), and metabolic data (glucose, HgA1c, lipids, homocysteine, Cystatin-c).   In collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh ADRC Genetics Core, we will obtain blood samples for processing for DNA analysis. We will genotype each individual participant for the APOE gene, as well as 20 previously identified candidate genes thought to increase risk for AD.  We will also look at inflammatory markers. 
  • Behavioral: Each of the study participants will complete the HCP-specified measures of sensation, motor functions, cognition, emotion, and personality traits.

Cohort Description

The study consists of 400 participants ranging in age from 50-89.  Of those, 200 will be cognitively normal, 125 will have Alzheimer’s Disease, 50 will have Mild Cognitive Impairment, and 25 will have complaints of memory impairment.

Data Release Plans

  • The first data release includes 80 participants.
  • The second data release includes 200 participants.

 The third data release includes 400 participants.


Aging, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Pittsburgh Compound B, PET, PIB, Magnetoencephalography, MEG, cognitive impairment, cognitive dysfunction, memory, amyloid