Exploring how changes in brain connectivity underlie symptoms in dementia with Lewy bodies

Researchers in Newcastle are using brain scans to better understand what causes the varied symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies.

Researching

Diagnosis
Symptoms
Treatments

Dr John-Paul Taylor’s team at the University of Newcastle are using sophisticated brain imaging techniques to measure the changes in the brain driven by DLB. DLB is a ‘multi-module’ disease, meaning it affects many different brain areas and functions, including hearing, vision, cognition, movement and memory, causing a variety of distressing symptoms. It’s thought that these variable symptoms could be the result of different brain ‘modules’ becoming disconnected and fragmented. The team in Newcastle are exploring this idea to improve our understanding of what causes the complex symptoms of DLB.

The symptoms of Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are variable and can be highly distressing. Compared to other dementias, relatively little is known about DLB and it can often be misdiagnosed as another disease. Understanding how connectivity differs between Alzheimer’s and DLB may lead to new ways for brain scans to help inform diagnosis, allowing clinicians to better distinguish between the two diseases. By improving our understanding of DLB the study could have significant impact for the design of future medicines. Findings from this innovative research will give valuable insight into the potential for drug treatments that delay the breakdown in communication between brain modules to slow the development of the symptoms of DLB.

The project is recruiting volunteers from Dr Taylor’s specialist DLB clinic, who will undergo brain scans to measure the structure and functioning of their brains, and take part in detailed clinical and behavioural assessments. The researchers will analyse how the function and structure of different brain modules changes in DLB compared to people with Alzheimer’s and people without dementia.

A doctor watches a man be moved inside an MRI scanner

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Awarded to
Dr John-Paul Taylor

Institution
Newcastle University

Current Award
£45,112.76

Dates
1 January 2017 - 31 August 2017

Full project name
Understanding the symptomatic spectrum in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): The module dissociation hypothesis of DLB

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