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Title:Successful cognitive aging: Implications of early Alzheimer's disease detection, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors
Author(s):Monti, James
Director of Research:Cohen, Neal J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cohen, Neal J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Kramer, Arthur F.; McAuley, Edward; Balota, David A.; Barbey, Aron
Department / Program:Psychology
Discipline:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Aging
Hippocampus
Relational Memory
Lifestyle
Alzheimer's Disease
Abstract:The question as to why one seventy-year-old has Alzheimer's disease and another continues to work productively carries with it profound societal implications. Determining the antecedents in one's life which shape his or her cognitive aging trajectory may allow for an increase in those who remain healthy and productive throughout senescence, which would alleviate multiple socioeconomic and emotional burdens. In the current report, a series of studies are documented aimed at understanding and promoting successful cognitive aging, defined as 1) the early detection and ultimate prevention of Alzheimer's disease, and 2) maximizing cognition in healthy older adults who are free of dementia. In studying these effects, particular emphasis has been given to the hippocampal memory system, given the impact aging and Alzheimer's disease has on the hippocampus. Turning to the empirical work, chapter two describes the use of a new memory task in young, healthy older, and very mild Alzheimer's disease participants to further delineate the cognitive manifestations of the earliest part of the disease. The data from this study support a multi-factorial model of aging, whereby the memory deficits in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease are qualitatively distinct than those from healthy aging. Chapter three uses principal components analysis to demonstrate that relational memory tasks developed in our lab, which could be considered non-traditional hippocampal based tasks, do indeed cluster with historic hippocampal based tasks such as delayed word-list recall, and that these newly developed tasks strongly relate to hippocampal structure. Chapters four and five then use these relational memory tasks to study the structure and function of the hippocampal memory system in aging as a function of history of mild traumatic brain injury (chapter four) and cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity levels (chapter five).The results from chapter four indicate the combination of an early life mild traumatic brain injury and aging is associated with smaller hippocampal volumes and worse memory relative to participants with no brain injury. Chapter five demonstrates the neuroprotective effects of maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness and engaging in an active lifestyle by illustrating benefits from these variables to memory performance and pathways in the hippocampal memory system. The implications and inter-relatedness of these studies on successful cognitive aging is discussed in chapter six, including a discussion on future directions.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/49850
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 James Michael Monti
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
2016-09-22
Date Deposited:2014-05


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