Heading for Trouble

Our editorial (previously teased) on CTE risks associated with playing football (soccer) is now out on the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It is open access and here.

In other news, I was recently at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, where I presented a poster on memory loss in late-life depression. The most exciting finding, from my memory-obsessed perspective, is that the recency ratio (also here) does a great job of picking up subtle changes in biomarkers levels in individuals who show no cognitive impairment whatsoever, despite being depressed.

Poster and some more fluff AAIC 17 handout.

Posted in Aging, Brain Damage, Cognition, Dementia, Depression, Football, Memory, Psychology, Soccer | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Dementia Showcase

On Wednesday last week (May 17), I gave a presentation at the Salford University Dementia Showcase to highlight the work we are doing at LJMU around dementia. It was a fun little conference, and I got to speak to some lovely people.

Here’s my talk:

LJMU Dementia Showcase


Posted in Aging, Brain Damage, Cognition, Dementia, Depression, Football, Memory, Psychology, Soccer | Tagged , ,

University of the Year

Liverpool John Moores University won University of the year at Educate North Awards. Story here.


In other news, I need more sleep.

Posted in Uncategorized

Alzheimer’s Research UK North West Public Engagement event, May 17 2017, Salford

Has dementia had an impact on your life? Would you like to learn more about local dementia research, support services and charities?

Join us at the University of Salford for a family friendly afternoon of lab tours, interactive sessions, exhibitions, performances and workshops.

More information in the link below.

ARUK Public Poster with Eventbrite link

Posted in Aging, Dementia, Memory | Tagged

Recency ratio and Glutamate

Glutamate is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and is thought to be involved in the process of memory encoding and storage. Glutamate disturbances have also been reported in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (MDD), and in Alzheimer’s disease. In this paper, we set out to study the relationship between cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) glutamate levels and memory performance, which we believe has not been reported previously. In particular, we focused on recall performance broken down by serial position. Our prediction was that the recency ratio (Rr), a novel cognitive marker of intellectual impairment, would be linked with CSF glutamate levels. We studied data from a group of cognitively intact elderly individuals, 28 of whom had MDD, while 19 were controls. Study results indicated that Rr levels, but no other memory score, were inversely correlated with CSF glutamate levels, although this was found only in individuals with late-life MDD. For comparison, glutamine or GABA were not correlated with any memory performance measure.

Paper here.


Posted in Aging, Cognition, Depression, Memory, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , ,

Football and Dementia

Our Editorial titled “Heading for trouble: is dementia a game changer for football?” just came up on the British Journal of Sports Medicine blog. And it is here.brain-damage-300x215

Posted in Aging, Brain Damage, Cognition, Dementia, Footabll, Memory, Psychology, Soccer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Primacy Effect and Functional Connectivity

Background: The “primacy effect,” i.e., increased memory recall for the first items of a series compared to the following items, is reduced in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). Memory task-fMRI studies demonstrated that primacy recall is associated with higher activation of the hippocampus and temporo-parietal and frontal cortical regions in healthy subjects. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at resting state revealed that hippocampus functional connectivity (FC) with neocortical brain areas, including regions of the default mode network (DMN), is altered in aMCI. The present study aimed to investigate whether resting state fMRI FC between the hippocampus and cortical brain regions, especially the DMN, is associated with primacy recall performance in aMCI.

Methods: A number of 87 aMCI patients underwent resting state fMRI and verbal episodic memory assessment. FC between the left or right hippocampus, respectively, and all other voxels in gray matter was mapped voxel-wise and used in whole-brain regression analyses, testing whether FC values predicted delayed primacy recall score. The delayed primacy score was defined as the number of the first four words recalled on the California Verbal Learning Test. Additionally, a partial least squares (PLS) analysis was performed, using DMN regions as seeds to identify the association of their functional interactions with delayed primacy recall.

Results: Voxel-based analyses indicated that delayed primacy recall was mainly (positively) associated with higher FC between the left and right hippocampus. Additionally, significant associations were found for higher FC between the left hippocampus and bilateral temporal cortex, frontal cortical regions, and for higher FC between the right hippocampus and right temporal cortex, right frontal cortical regions, left medial frontal cortex and right amygdala (p < 0.01, uncorr.). PLS analysis revealed positive associations of delayed primacy recall with FC between regions of the DMN, including the left and right hippocampus, as well as middle cingulate cortex and thalamus (p < 0.04). In conclusion, in the light of decreased hippocampus function in aMCI, inter-hemispheric hippocampus FC and hippocampal FC with brain regions predominantly included in the DMN may contribute to residual primacy recall in aMCI.

Paper here.

Posted in Aging, Cognition, Dementia, Memory, Psychology | Tagged , , ,