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Principal Investigator  
Principal Investigator's Name: Hannes Almgren
Institution: Ghent University
Department: Data Analysis
Proposed Analysis: The main objective of my research is to assess the neural information flows underlying age-related cognitive performance, and cognitive performance during different stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD). I will mostly focus on effective connectivity, which is the causal influence among brain regions. I will first study the relation between effective connectivity and cognitive performance in both healthy elderly and elderly suffering from AD. Then I will study how this relation is influenced by structural connectivity. Effective connectivity will be inferred using spectral dynamic causal modelling (spDCM) applied to resting state fMRI scans. Structural connectivity will be inferred using spherical deconvolution applied to diffusion-weighted MRI scans. In a second stage, I will examine how these effective connectivity patterns fluctuate over short periods of time, and how this is related to cognition in both healthy elderly and elderly with AD. In a third stage, I aim to examine whether cognitive decline can be predicted from the combination of effective and structural connectivity. In all three stages we will study three aspects of cognitive performance: working memory, executive function, and global cognitive performance. For working memory we will look at scores on the digit span and Corsi block-tapping task. For executive function, we will look at performance on the trial making tests and response switching tasks. Global cognitive performance will be assessed using scores on the Mini Mental state examination. Connectivity measures and cognitive performance will be related using both general linear models (for linear relations), and supper vector regression (for non-linear relations). The research proposal has been accepted and will be funded by the Special Research Fund of Ghent University for a period of 4 years (see, http://www.ugent.be/nl/onderzoek/financiering/bof/selectie/htm).
Additional Investigators