Study 1: Oxford University and Brain+

The aim of the project is to understand the cognitive manifestations of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) during the pre-symptomatic stage. The practical outcome of this project is to identify early subtle changes in cognition in groups with a high risk of developing but are currently asymptomatic.

Research approach & Ethics

The approach is first to deconstruct the symptoms of AD into their component cognitive/behavioural mechanisms, e.g. VSTM, executive planning, and visuomotor ability. Then in collaboration with Brain+ApS, we will gamify and computerize a collection of cognitive tasks called AD Detect & Prevent detection tool that offer ‘graded’ measurements of these cognitive functions. Primary candidates are the ‘what was where’ task for VSTM, the ‘Tower of London’ task for planning and ‘Track tracing’ task for visuomotor function. 4 groups (AD high risk group, MCI patients, AD patients and healthy controls) of a total of an estimated 180 participants will take part in the study where they perform a standard neuropsychological test and tests in the AD Detect & Prevent detection tool.

Well-established clinical collaborations, patient cohorts and healthy control cohort are in place:

  • MCI and AD Patients will be recruited from Cognitive Clinic service & UK Dementia and Neurodegeneration Network (N>500 AD cases)
  • AD at-risk group and healthy control group will be recruited from UK Biobank (100,000 individuals who will have multimodal imaging and be genotyped). From which we have pilot data.

We hypothesize that participants at risk of developing AD will perform better than MCI and AD patients but worse than healthy controls as assessed using the AD Detect & Prevent detection tool, while no significant difference will be found between AD high risk group and healthy controls using standard neuropsychological assessments.

University of Oxford has well-established review process in place to ensure research integrity and compliance with ethics regulations (for more information please see and the proposed project will follow these standard procedures and seek ethics approval from the University Ethics Committee (CUREC).