Behavioural and neural characteristics of navigation impairments in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease

Coughlan, Gillian (2020) Behavioural and neural characteristics of navigation impairments in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Detection of incipient Alzheimer disease (AD) pathophysiology is critical to identify preclinical individuals and target potentially disease-modifying therapies towards them. Cognitive fingerprints for incipient AD are virtually non-existent as diagnostics and outcomes measures are still focused on episodic memory deficits as the gold standard for AD, despite their low sensitivity and specificity for identifying at-risk preclinical individuals. This thesis focuses on spatial navigation deficits, which are increasingly shown to be present in atrisk individuals, because the navigation system in the brain overlaps substantially with the regions affected by AD in both animal models and humans. Experimental chapters 2 and 3, show that a novel test battery captures navigation deficits that precede the onset of verbal and non-verbal episodic memory deficits in preclinical disease and that resting-state functional connectivity between the EC and the PCC underpins such deficits. Evidence for moderate test re-test reliability in the same non-clinical sample is presented in chapter 4. Moving beyond detection of preclinical disease, and towards prevention, in chapter 5 we examined whether marine fish oils help preserve the volume of AD vulnerable brain regions and found that low circulating DHA blood concentration predicts preservation of hippocampal and entorhinal volume in preclinical AD. This is potentially due to increased DHA uptake from the blood to the brain due to preclinical disease. Taken together, the research advances our conceptual understanding of the pathological and compensatory changes that characterise preclinical AD and offers important information toward generating more accurate risk profiles for AD vulnerable adults.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2020 10:59
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2020 10:59


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