As part of a two-day event on dementia research, SINAPSE and SDRC (Scottish Dementia Research Consortium) co-hosted a meeting at the University of Aberdeen on the topic of ‘Neuroimaging in diseases that cause dementia’ – following this year’s annual Scottish EPAD (European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia) conference.
The meeting opened with a welcome from Prof Craig Ritchie (University of Edinburgh), SDRC Chair and EPAD Project Co-coordinator. The day’s first external invited speaker was up next: Silvia Ingala, EPAD Fellow at VUmc Amsterdam, presenting on the role of neuroimaging in secondary prevention of AD dementia. This was followed by two speakers from the University of Aberdeen: Research Fellow Dr Anca Sandu-Giuraniuc, presenting her research investigating cortical complexity and functional connectivity as potential resilience factors for dementia, and then PhD student Jennifer Waymont, presenting her work on automated detection and analysis of brain white matter hyperintensities. The morning session was brought to a close by Prof Emanuele Trucco (University of Dundee) with a presentation that invited the audience to consider retinal imaging as a subdomain of neuroimaging, and compelling evidence that biomarkers for dementia risk can be detected by ophthalmoscopy.
After a lunch break featuring lively discussions and perusal of research posters, the afternoon session began with a debate addressing the question: “Is ‘dementia’ still a useful diagnosis?” Persuasive arguments were put forward by Prof Peter Connelly (NHS Tayside) in support of the proposition, and Dr Alison Green (University of Edinburgh) against the opposition, and a show of hands afterwards revealed that a number of audience members had their initial opinions changed. The close of the meeting focused on analysis of neuroimaging data from UK Biobank, a resource in which scans from 100,000 volunteers will ultimately be available for research. Dr Donald Lyall (University of Glasgow) presented his work studying associations between brain MRI indices, genetic variants, and cognitive abilities in the UK Biobank cohort, and then Dr Gordon Waiter (University of Aberdeen) presented analyses he has carried out to investigate age-related changes in brain white matter tracts and seasonal changes in hippocampal volume. The day’s second external invited speaker, Fidel Alfaro Almagro (University of Oxford), gave the final presentation of the meeting with an insider’s view of ‘big data’ acquisition and analysis within the UK Biobank imaging study.