The Neuroimaging research group focuses on the study of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) images to reveal brain characteristics related to healthy aging and AD risk factors that can be suggestive of novel prevention strategies. With this purpose on mind, neuroimaging data is analysed together with cognition, genetics, biomarker and other clinical, environmental and lifestyle factors in order to detect their impact on the brain at the structural, functional and molecular levels.
The Neuroimaging Research Group is composed of a multi-disciplinary team expert on data acquisition, processing and analysis of complex neuroimaging data. The group is led by Dr Juan Domingo Gispert, who has co-authored more than 130 scientific papers that have received over 2,300 citations, most of them related to human neuroimaging and neurological diseases.
Cerebral correlates of preclinical AD and AD risk factors
Neuroimaging techniques, like MRI and PET, allow us to characterize brain alterations in the preclinical stage of AD to better understand the physiological processes involved in the response to the onset of early cerebral pathological changes. To this end, the ALFA cohort is extensively characterized using a variety of neuroimaging modalities. We also participate in the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia IMI project.
Expanding the role of amyloid PET imaging
In collaboration with international research collaborators in the AMYPAD consortium, we research on ways to better use PET imaging both in the clinical and research settings. These projects involve both imaging of clinical and preclinical cohorts as well as methodological developments to improve the quantitative accuracy and comparability of amyloid imaging data obtained with different tracers and imaging sites.
Genetic determinants of cerebral phenotypes
The vast amount of data collected through the ALFA study and related sub-studies allow researchers to perform mediation analyses, with the ultimate aim of understanding the interplay between Alzheimer’s disease risk factors (both non-modifiable as genetics and modifiable ones), and cerebral endophenotypes.
Novel imaging techniques to detect preclinical AD
We develop novel and more convenient methods to improve the detection of preclinical AD, both in the general population as well as for research clinical trials. Two complementary strategies are followed. On the one hand, we develop novel MRI pulse sequences that are sensitive to changes associated to the accumulation of misfolded proteins in the brain. On the other, we use machine and deep learning methods to extract useful information from standard imaging techniques. Ultimately, both approaches can be combined in order to achieve an improved prediction capacity.
Generation of an imaging repository in very early Alzheimer’s disease
Members of the Neuroimaging Research Group are assessing the most efficient way of sharing acquired data in ongoing projects in open-access platforms to benefit research groups globally who are dedicated to dementia prevention. Specifically, the TRIBEKA Imaging Platform project joining ALFA and PREVENT studies is intended to deliver the largest and best-characterised data for understanding neurodegenerative disease and related clinical models in midlife ever assembled globally.