Normal aging is associated with declines in episodic memory and executive functions. Research suggests that around 20-50% of clinically healthy individuals show significant accumulation of amyloid, one of the hallmark biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease but it has been difficult to establish the functional impact of amyloid burden in healthy older adults. Decreases in dopaminergic functioning in old age have been shown to mediate age-related changes in various cognitive domains. This project uses state-of-the-art positron emission tomography, functional magnetic resonance imaging and sensitive neuropsychological testing to disentangle the functional impact of amyloid pathology from those of dopaminergic effects on cognition in clinically healthy older individuals. It is hypothesized that dopamine and amyloid burden will have dissociable effects on cognition and brain network connectivity. The results of the proposed project will have important implications for characterizing the early preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease and aid the development of strategies for early identification of incipient neuropathological processes. The research will take place during the 24-months outgoing phase at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, USA, and be followed by a 12-months reintegration phase at the Umeå Center for Functional Brain Imaging in Sweden. This IOF will lead to new insights into the neurobiological processes of cognitive aging and early Alzheimer’s disease, contribute to the accumulation of scientific skills and excellence in Europe, and enhance the career opportunities of a young female researcher in Europe.
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