Grants to ARC researchers from the Swedish Research Council

The Swedish Research Council (SRC) has come to a decision in the “Medicine and Health 2017” and “Humanities and Social Sciences 2017” calls. The lists of approved grants were published in end October and beginning of November respectively. In total, researchers at the Aging Research Center are awarded  11 800 000 SEK in project grants.

Photo: Maria Yohuang

Weili Xu, Identifying compensatory mechanisms against dementia in diabetes
Diabetes is associated with risk of dementia. The goal of this project is to advance our understanding of the mechanisms linking diabetes to dementia and to test the hypothesis that the risk effect of diabetes on the brain can be counteracted by a low vascular burden, healthy diet, cognitive reserve (high level of education and mental stimulation in occupation and leisure activities), and optimal antidiabetic medications. Specifically, we aim to:

  1. examine the role of genetic, metabolic, vascular and inflammatory factors in the diabetes-dementia association;
  2. evaluate whether and to what extent a low vascular burden delays dementia onset in people with diabetes;
  3. investigate whether healthy diet counteracts the risk effect of diabetes on dementia and brain lesions;
  4. assess the effect of cognitive reserve on dementia due to diabetes taking neurodegenerative markers into account; and
  5. detect the optimal antidiabetic medications that may retard cognitive decline.

This project will be carried out within two population-based cohort studies, a postmortem study and an intervention study. Findings from this project may lead to the establishment of the strategies to prevent dementia in people with diabetes, two of the most common disorders.

Lars Bäckman, Cognition, brain, and aging: Longitudinal analyses
The Cognition, Brain, and Aging (COBRA) project examines the relationship of the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and other brain parameters (i.e., grey- and white matter volumes, white-matter microstructure, functional activation patterns during rest and task performance, perfusion) to cognitive performance and change in aging, with a chief focus on longitudinal trajectories of DA availability and how those map onto corresponding cognitive paths. The first wave of data collection took place in 2012-2014 and involved 181 healthy adults between 64 and 68 years of age. Funding from the Swedish Research Council for Time 1 in COBRA was obtained from 2013-2017. Thus, the present project plan, which covers data collection and analyses for Time 2 (2018-2021) as well as documentation of research findings, constitutes a logical extension of our previous grant.

Photo: Maria Yohuang

Erika Jonsson Laukka, Predictors of olfactory memory decline: a longitudinal population-based study
Olfactory deficits are common in old age and associated with adverse health outcomes, such as dementia and mortality. In this project, we will do a thorough investigation of predictors of olfactory memory decline in the general elderly population. Predictors from the demographic, cognitive, clinical, genetic, and behavioral domains will be evaluated. For a subsample, neuroimaging and blood inflammatory markers will also be examined. An additional aim is to evaluate the uniqueness of olfactory memory relative to memory for other types of material (e.g. verbal information) in aging.

We will make use of an existing database from a Swedish population-based cohort – SNAC-K – where olfactory abilities, neuropsychological test performance, physical function, and medical health were repeatedly assessed in people aged ≥ 60 years.

With this large database, we will be able to assess predictors of, for example, incident olfactory dysfunction (i.e. performing below a clinical threshold) and olfactory memory decline. Previously research in this area have mainly been based on studies including only one time point, thus not addressing what might predict olfactory memory change.