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Cognitive Disorders Program

The Cognitive Disorders Program researches the causes of memory loss and/or impaired thinking ability, such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Frontotemporal dementia and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Faculty: Nancy R. Barbas, M.D., M.S.W.; Judith L. Heidebrink, M.D.; Sami Barmada, M.D., Ph.D.; and Henry L. Paulson, M.D., Ph.D.

There is an active research program in Cognitive Disorders and Dementia in the U-M Department of Neurology. Clinical and translational research in cognitive disorders includes brain imaging and clinical trials. A major resource for investigators is the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, one of 31 such centers funded by the National Institutes on Aging to study dementing diseases and cognitive disorders of aging.

The University of Michigan is a clinical site for the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, also funded by the federal government, to identify more effective treatments for early memory loss and Alzheimer's disease.

In addition, we participate in clinical drug trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. We also have particularly been interested in using innovative brain imaging technology, such as positron emission tomography, to study dementing diseases. The University of Michigan has developed radioligands to study dopaminergic and cholinergic receptors in neurodegenerative diseases. We also serve as a PET image quality control and analysis site for a multi-center PET trial and the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

Fundamental research includes study of AD transgenic mice and intracellular modulators of amyloid precursor protein metabolism and RNA interference as potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. In addition, ongoing studies are aimed at identifying and evaluating novel treatments for frontotemporal dementia using primary rodent and human stem cell-derived neurons and astrocytes.