Aging and Obesity
Cumulating evidence from recent years shows that obesity and related changes in physiology and metabolism can substantially affect brain health in later life. In contrast, individual lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise could exert beneficial effects on brain structure and function. As preventive options against common old-age diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are urgently needed, the focus of our group is to better understand the effects of obesity, dietary habits and other lifestyle-related factors on the aging brain. In addition, we aim to shed light on potential underlying mechanisms including metabolic changes and an individual’s genetic background. This may help to develop novel strategies to maintain brain health until old age.
We study the effects of aging, obesity and lifestyle-factors on the brain using model-based and multivariate statistical models of functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, in combination with anthropometry, neuropsychological testings, behavioural assessments, peripheral blood-based biomarkers, and genotyping, in cohorts of younger and older humans.
- MRI: Some examples of current analyses using the software packages SPM, FSL, and FreeSurfer: Voxel-Based-Morphometry (VBM), automatted segmentation algorithms, resting-state functional connectivity, diffusion-tensor-imaging (DTI), tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS)
- Neuropsychology: Memory performance, verbal fluency, cognitive flexibility, etc.
- Behaviour: Eating patterns and behaviour, Mood, etc.
- Biomarkers: Glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, gastrointestinal hormones, adipokines, etc.
- Genotyping: APOE, BDNF, COMT, and other obesity-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms...