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Media Contact: Lisa Newbern 18 July 2004    
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Primate Research Combines with Eye-Tracking Technology to Detect Cognitive Impairment
Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University have expanded a nonhuman primate (NHP)-based study to human patients with the intention of identifying human patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who will progress to the more devastating Alzheimer's disease (AD). MCI is a subtle memory impairment without dementia. The goal of such identification is to develop early interventional therapy to stop or slow the progression of MCI to AD.

Stuart Zola, PhD, director of the Yerkes Research Center, and his team of researchers are adapting behavioral memory tasks developed for use with NHPs and combining them with noninvasive, infrared, eye-tracking technology to detect impaired memory in humans before major damage occurs in the brain.

The current human studies are based on results from NHP-based research in which researchers identified the important role the hippocampus plays in memory function. Damage to the hippocampus has been implicated in the early memory problems of MCI patients.

Dr. Zola and his colleagues presented data about their work at the upcoming International Alzheimer's Association meeting during a poster session July 18. Their research is funded by the NIH.

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