Can reduced dopamine availability and disrupted functional brain connectome serve as biomarkers for cognitive decline in aging?

PI: Alireza Salami

Researcher in Psychology

It is critical to find measurement tools that can predict future severe cognitive decline, such as the one typically observed in demented elderly people, as early as possible, before substantial irreversible damage has been caused to the brain. To find potential brain-based biomarkers, the DopamiNe, Age, connectoMe, and Cognition (DyNAMiC) study was designed.

DyNAMiC is planned to be a 5-year longitudinal study, with two measurement occasions. It examines the relationship of the connectome (i.e. brain structural and functional architecture) as well as the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) to each other and cognitive decline in normal aging. The specific aims are:

1. To determine the relationship between functional connectome measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during three different mental states (resting, movie watching, and working memory task) and age-sensitive cognitive abilities (e.g. episodic memory, working memory, processing speed) across the adult lifespan.

2. To determine the contribution of dopaminergic neurotransmission as measured by dopamine D1 and D2 receptor availability with positron emission tomography (PET) on functional connectome and cognition across the human lifespan.

Finding a sensitive marker for cognitive decline in aging will pave the road for successful design and implementation of intervention programs that may eventually improve cognitive functioning in old age.

This project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

Participating researchers

Lars Bäckman, Jarkko Johansson, Kristin Nordin, Grégoria Kalpouzos, Goran Papenberg