Assistant Professor
Division of Geriatric Psychiatriy

Project Title: Relationship of physical activity to hippocampal structure and memory in MCI

Gary Small, MD, UCLA
Susan Bookheimer, MD – UCLA
Bruce Dobkin, MD – UCLA

Multidisciplinary Expertise:
Geriatric psychiatry, dementia, neuroscience, neuroimaging.

Project description:  
This observational study aims to examine the effects of physical activity levels on hippocampal structure and memory in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Volunteers will have their physical activity monitored for two weeks at a time over a year and a half. Dr. Merrill will test memory and measure hippocampal structure at the beginning of the study and again 18-months later using neuropsychological testing and high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to understand the relationship of these factors to physical activity levels in MCI volunteers. Dr. Merrill will also measure potentially related factors such as vascular health, family history of dementia, APO-E genotypes, etc., both to control for these potential confounds and to examine any interactive effects of these variables. This paradigm will establish a methodology within which to then test lifestyle interventions in populations at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.