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UC Riverside Team Joining Project to Advance Alzheimer’s Research

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Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being
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University of California, Riverside

UC Riverside has joined a group of universities that received a $55.6 million grant to develop new cognitive assessment tools.

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UCR Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being
Portrait of Professor Aaron Seitz

UC Riverside will be collaborating with several universities such as Boston University, UC San Diego, and many more. They’ll be contributing to the Adult Changes in Thought Study through the University of Washington, which has been studying brain aging and Alzheimer’s for the past 25 years.

One of the ways they currently test cognitive ability is through a pencil and paper test. UCR Professor of Psychology Aaron Seitz described to me how that test works, saying, “This test is pretty simple, what you do is you have circles that will have letters and numbers in them. And you're supposed to connect the 1 to the A, then the A to the 2, and so on and so forth. So you get through part of the alphabet.”

What the grant money will be doing is help bring that testing to a more modern platform.  All the universities will be testing new digital ways of measuring that same data.

Professor Seitz added, “There’s huge potential for digital measures that give a lot more details of people's performance and in doing so, potentially information that might predict later onset Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer disease-related dementias.”

Currently, there are no known indicators or cures for Alzheimer’s. According to the CDC, over 5.8 million Americans lived with the disease in 2020, with 14 million people expected to have it by 2060. Once UCR and the fellow universities have solidified their new electric measures, they’ll be used by the Washington University researchers.