The goal of this project is to use pictures to better understand the specific nature of memory loss in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). By using techniques of experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience, this work will help to elucidate which processes of recognition memory are impaired and which are relatively intact. Behavioral data will inform us about the patients' performance, and event-related potentials (ERPs) will allow us to record discrete changes in brain activity, without the necessity of overt behavioral responses from study participants. Dual-process models of memory argue that recognition is subserved by recollection and familiarity. While it is understood that recollection is impaired early in AD, research is conflicted as to whether patients with mild AD can successfully use familiarity to support memory judgments. Our previous work suggests that pictures are an important class of stimuli that may allow patients with mild AD to use enhanced familiarity to improve their memory accuracy over words. Based on this hypothesis, the primary aims of the proposed research are to determine 1) whether pictures allow patients with mild AD to successfully use familiarity to support picture recognition, 2) whether pictures allow patients with mild AD to successfully use post-retrieval monitoring and verification, and 3) whether patients with mild AD can use imagery strategies to turn words into pictures. As part of this proposed research, the candidate seeks training in: 1) the methodology and ethics of clinical research pertaining to patients, 2) advanced cognitive neuroscience of learning and memory and 3) understanding complex high-density ERP data and how it relates to cognitive and neural correlates of memory. The proposed research plan, didactic courses, and tutorial instruction from mentors and advisors will foster the candidate's development into an independent clinician-scientist focusing on understanding how memory breaks down in Alzheimer's disease.

Public Health Relevance

The experiments outlined in this proposal are aimed both at understanding the underpinnings of memory loss in AD, and also at possible early intervention strategies that can be rapidly implemented in the clinical setting. This translational research can help to ease the burden placed on caregivers in the home, ease the financial burden placed on the infrastructure of the health care system, and provide a novel understanding of this devastating disease to allow for new drug therapies and interventions to be developed.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
National Institute on Aging Initial Review Group (NIA)
Program Officer
Silverberg, Nina B
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Deason, Rebecca G; Nadkarni, Neil A; Tat, Michelle J et al. (2017) The use of metacognitive strategies to decrease false memories in source monitoring in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Cortex 91:287-296
Molitor, Robert J; Ko, Philip C; Ally, Brandon A (2015) Eye movements in Alzheimer's disease. J Alzheimers Dis 44:1-12
Deason, Rebecca G; Hussey, Erin P; Flannery, Sean et al. (2015) Preserved conceptual implicit memory for pictures in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Brain Cogn 99:112-7
Ko, Philip C; Duda, Bryant; Hussey, Erin et al. (2014) Understanding age-related reductions in visual working memory capacity: examining the stages of change detection. Atten Percept Psychophys 76:2015-30
Ko, Philip C; Duda, Bryant; Hussey, Erin P et al. (2014) The temporal dynamics of visual object priming. Brain Cogn 91:11-20
Molitor, Robert J; Ko, Philip C; Hussey, Erin P et al. (2014) Memory-related eye movements challenge behavioral measures of pattern completion and pattern separation. Hippocampus 24:666-72
Ally, Brandon A; Hussey, Erin P; Ko, Philip C et al. (2013) Pattern separation and pattern completion in Alzheimer's disease: evidence of rapid forgetting in amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Hippocampus 23:1246-58
Ko, Philip C; Duda, Bryant; Hussey, Erin P et al. (2013) Electrophysiological distinctions between recognition memory with and without awareness. Neuropsychologia 51:642-55
Hussey, Erin P; Smolinsky, John G; Piryatinsky, Irene et al. (2012) Using mental imagery to improve memory in patients with Alzheimer disease: trouble generating or remembering the mind's eye? Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord 26:124-34
Simmons-Stern, Nicholas R; Deason, Rebecca G; Brandler, Brian J et al. (2012) Music-based memory enhancement in Alzheimer's disease: promise and limitations. Neuropsychologia 50:3295-303

Showing the most recent 10 out of 23 publications