Research

Memory and Aging Study

Memory and Aging Study

The Memory and Aging study is a longitudinal study of the relationship between aging and memory loss. Our main goal is to identify early indicators of problems with memory. Secondary goals include: 1) developing novel and non-invasive approaches to study changes in memory function; 2) identifying genetic factors that affect rate of progression in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease; and 3) validating an MRI technique for diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and/or Alzheimer’s disease. 

The study will involve genetic, imaging, psychiatric and neuropsychological investigation of memory loss during aging. We will do this with pencil-and-paper questionnaires of your memory, mood and health history; a blood sample for genetic analysis; and various MRI scans.

Additionally, the MRI scans and a smell identification test will be used to investigate problems with sense of smell in early Alzheimer's disease.

You may be eligible to participate in the study if you: 
1. Are between the ages of 60 and 85.
2. Have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment
3. Have no history of stroke, head injury or other neurologic or psychiatric disorder
4. Do not have a pacemaker or other metal object in your body
5. Have no conditions that affect your sense of smell
6. Have not had surgery for a brain aneurysm
7. Are not claustrophobic
8. Do not smoke
9. Are not pregnant
The study also needs healthy volunteers without symptoms of cognitive impairment or memory problems.    

For information, contact Chris Weitekamp at (717) 531-5858 or cweitekamp1@hmc.psu.edu                                                                                                                                                

Aerobic Exercise, Brain Function, and Daily Activities

  • We would like to see if routine physical exercise for 25-45 minutes, 3 times per week, helps with memory problems.
  • We administer pencil-and-paper pre- and post-exercise questionnaires of your memory and mood.
  • This project was developed in collaboration with Dr. Fang Yu of the Pennsylvania State University School of Nursing and Country Meadows retirement community.


Cognitive Rehabilitation Study

  • We would like to investigate the benefits of cognitive training and exercises for MCI and mild AD memory difficulties.
  • We plan to create a program with 1-hour sessions, meeting 2 days per week, lasting at least 12 weeks in which different techniques for better learning are implemented.
  • We would like to see if assisted learning will in turn enhance memory processes.
  • Different techniques would be used, and standardized memory tests will be used to determine the effectiveness of the techniques.
  • We hope to determine specific cognitive rehabilitation techniques that are beneficial in maintaining functional independence and delaying progression of AD.