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Approved research

Predictors of successful cognitive ageing and well-being: impact of sleep, physical activity and neuromodulators on age-related changes in frontoparietal connectivity.

Principal Investigator: Dr Magdalena Chechlacz
Approved Research ID: 29447
Approval date: September 3rd 2018

Lay summary

Age-related cognitive decline dramatically affecting quality of life pose a fundamental societal, economic and mental health challenge. While cognitive ageing itself is inevitable, there is a significant heterogeneity among older adults in the rate of age-related decline in basic mental functions. As cognitive decline (cognitive ageing) is associated with changes in brain connectivity, uncovering factors affecting these changes is key to understanding the observed variability in cognitive decline and potential susceptibility to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and dementia. The proposed research aims to provide important insights into functional longevity of frontoparietal networks sub-serving vital cognitive functions (such as cognitive control, memory, attention, reasoning and language) and to explore whether factors affecting frontoparietal connectivity are linked to mental health problems, common in older adults, such as anxiety and depression. As such, this research will generate basic knowledge with a potential to impact the advice on how to maintain healthy brain across lifespan and to prevent mental health problems (anxiety, depression and dementia) in the ageing population. The main foreseen benefit, which meets the UK Biobank purpose is to assist further improvements in well-being of older adults. The proposed research (conducted on a 3 year rolling basis) will use the UK Biobank Brain Imaging Cohort data in combination with lifestyle, physiological and mental health measures, physical assessment and genetic data. We will employ statistical models to: (1) explore associations between age-related changes in frontoparietal connectivity and different sleep patterns, vascular function and physical activity; and (2) examine the effects of those associations on anxiety/depression symptoms in older adults. Finally, we will employ analyses using genetic data to investigate the impact of chronotype (preferred morningness/eveningness in daily wake-sleep cycle) and variability in neuromodulators (neurotransmitters) on age-related changes in frontoparietal connectivity.