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Other Research

New Research Opportunity
Bruce Crosson, Ph.D.

Do you or someone you know have Alzheimer’s disease?

Participants are needed for a research study to help us better understand language problems in Alzheimer’s disease. Participants must be right handed, native English language speakers, and able to undergo an MRI scan. Compensation will be provided for undergoing the MRI scan. If interested please call the University of Florida at (352) 273-5249. Approved by Shands IRB – 9/30/09


Telephonic Assessment of Sundowning in Those with Memory Disorders
David Burks, MD

“Sundowning” is a problem observed in patients with progressive cognitive (memory and “thinking”) problems characterized by waxing and waning (getting better and getting worse) of cognitive impairment at different times of the day, most commonly in the afternoon and evening. The purpose of this project is to assess the frequency of this disorder in patients with progressive dementia through the use of telephonically administered cognitive assessment tools. Subjects simply answer a set of questions posed by the investigator over the phone, once in the morning and once in the evening over two consecutive days. These interviews allow testing of patients over a large population without a clinic visit and thus provide a means to investigate the causes and incidence of this disorder.


Predicting Alzheimer’s Disease
KM Heilman, MD

We are testing the ability of a new computerized test to distinguish (and screen) demented individuals from non-demented elderly subjects. The goal of this project is to create and test a self-administered computer test for dementia. If successful, this test could then be used in public facilities (e.g. pharmacies, grocery stores) and by primary care physicians to screen for possible dementia.


Anti-cholinergic Medications and Dementia
Jack Tsao, MD and KM Heilman, MD

The purpose of this study is to learn if people who have a history of taking medications that have anti-cholinergic properties are more likely to develop dementia than people who do not take these medications. This study is using large databases, where patients are followed longitudinally and the medications they are using or have used are recorded.


Creativity and Dementia
Valeria Drago, MD and KM Heilman, MD

The purpose of this study is to assess patients with various forms of dementia with a well standardized test of creativity, the Torrance test, to learn what aspects of the dementing process influence the various components of creativity.


Attentional Distractibility in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease
Valeria Drago, MD and KM Heilman, MD

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease often demonstrate visuospatial disorders when performing instrumental activities and activities of daily living. The purpose of this study is to learn if patients with AD have increased spatial distractibility. To assess these patients, as well as control subjects, we will have them perform line bisections with distracting stimuli on one or the other ends of these lines versus performing the line bisection task without distracting stimuli. Both bottom up (novel stimuli) and top down attention, where patients must allocate their attention and then disengage will be assessed. If we learn that patients with AD are distractible, future studies will attempt to learn the effect of catecholaminergic medications on distractibility.


Disengagement in Alzheimer’s Disease
Valeria Drago, MD and KM Heilman, MD

Many of the families of patients with AD complain that these patients appear to be withdrawn, especially avoiding social situations. There are at least two explanations of this withdrawal. It is possible that these patients have a reduction in their social-emotional responsitivity (have decreased rating of emotional stimuli) or have an avoidance response (overall have a propensity to bisect lines toward their body). To test these alternatives, subjects with AD and controls are being asked to rate emotional pictures on radial lines.


fMRI Mapping of Memory Functions
David Loring, PhD

We will examine the activity of brain regions that are associated with successful acquisition of material into memory, which will permit us to determine which brain regions are contributing to successful memory formation. The purpose of this research study is to learn how the brain analyzes information and how the brain functions to produce behavior. We hope to determine how the performance of different types of tasks affects the blood oxygenation in different areas of the brain.


Concept Combination and Sentence Production
Lori Altmann, PhD

The purpose of this study is to investigate the ability of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to combine individual concepts into grammatical sentences. Our secondary goal is to examine the effects of semantic, working memory and executive function impairments on this ability. These studies will lead to an improved understanding of how different aspects of cognition contribute to language use in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other impaired populations.