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1.  The Cambridge Centre for Ageing and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) study protocol: a cross-sectional, lifespan, multidisciplinary examination of healthy cognitive ageing 
BMC Neurology  2014;14(1):204.
As greater numbers of us are living longer, it is increasingly important to understand how we can age healthily. Although old age is often stereotyped as a time of declining mental abilities and inflexibility, cognitive neuroscience reveals that older adults use neural and cognitive resources flexibly, recruiting novel neural regions and cognitive processes when necessary. Our aim in this project is to understand how age-related changes to neural structure and function interact to support cognitive abilities across the lifespan.
We are recruiting a population-based cohort of 3000 adults aged 18 and over into Stage 1 of the project, where they complete an interview including health and lifestyle questions, a core cognitive assessment, and a self-completed questionnaire of lifetime experiences and physical activity. Of those interviewed, 700 participants aged 18-87 (100 per age decile) continue to Stage 2 where they undergo cognitive testing and provide measures of brain structure and function. Cognition is assessed across multiple domains including attention and executive control, language, memory, emotion, action control and learning. A subset of 280 adults return for in-depth neurocognitive assessment in Stage 3, using functional neuroimaging experiments across our key cognitive domains.
Formal statistical models will be used to examine the changes that occur with healthy ageing, and to evaluate age-related reorganisation in terms of cognitive and neural functions invoked to compensate for overall age-related brain structural decline. Taken together the three stages provide deep phenotyping that will allow us to measure neural activity and flexibility during performance across a number of core cognitive functions. This approach offers hypothesis-driven insights into the relationship between brain and behaviour in healthy ageing that are relevant to the general population.
Our study is a unique resource of neuroimaging and cognitive measures relevant to change across the adult lifespan. Because we focus on normal age-related changes, our results may contribute to changing views about the ageing process, lead to targeted interventions, and reveal how normal ageing relates to frail ageing in clinicopathological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4219118  PMID: 25412575
Healthy ageing; Brain ageing; Brain imaging; Epidemiology; Cognition; Magnetoencephalography; Functional MRI; Structural MRI; Brain networks; Lifespan
2.  COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium): An international consortium to identify risk and protective factors and biomarkers of cognitive ageing and dementia in diverse ethnic and sociocultural groups 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:165.
A large number of longitudinal studies of population-based ageing cohorts are in progress internationally, but the insights from these studies into the risk and protective factors for cognitive ageing and conditions like mild cognitive impairment and dementia have been inconsistent. Some of the problems confounding this research can be reduced by harmonising and pooling data across studies. COSMIC (Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium) aims to harmonise data from international cohort studies of cognitive ageing, in order to better understand the determinants of cognitive ageing and neurocognitive disorders.
Longitudinal studies of cognitive ageing and dementia with at least 500 individuals aged 60 years or over are eligible and invited to be members of COSMIC. There are currently 17 member studies, from regions that include Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. A Research Steering Committee has been established, two meetings of study leaders held, and a website developed. The initial attempts at harmonising key variables like neuropsychological test scores are in progress.
The challenges of international consortia like COSMIC include efficient communication among members, extended use of resources, and data harmonisation. Successful harmonisation will facilitate projects investigating rates of cognitive decline, risk and protective factors for mild cognitive impairment, and biomarkers of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Extended implications of COSMIC could include standardised ways of collecting and reporting data, and a rich cognitive ageing database being made available to other researchers. COSMIC could potentially transform our understanding of the epidemiology of cognitive ageing, and have a world-wide impact on promoting successful ageing.
PMCID: PMC3827845  PMID: 24195705
Cohort studies; Cognitive ageing; Data harmonisation; Dementia; International consortium; Mild cognitive impairment
3.  Population studies of sporadic cerebral amyloid angiopathy and dementia: a systematic review 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:3.
Deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) in vessel walls of the brain as cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) could be a major factor in the pathogenesis of dementia. Here we investigate the relationship between dementia and the prevalence of CAA in older populations. We searched the literature for prospective population-based epidemiological clinicopathological studies, free of the biases of other sampling techniques, which were used as a comparison.
To identify population-based studies assessing CAA and dementia, a previous systematic review of population-based clinicopathological studies of ageing and dementia was employed. To identify selected-sample studies, PsychInfo (1806–April Week 3 2008), OVID MEDLINE (1950–April Week 2 2008) and Pubmed (searched 21 April 2008) databases were searched using the term "amyloid angiopathy". These databases were also employed to search for any population-based studies not included in the previous systematic review. Studies were included if they reported the prevalence of CAA relative to a dementia classification (clinical or neuropathological).
Four population-based studies were identified. They showed that on average 55–59% of those with dementia displayed CAA (of any severity) compared to 28–38% of the non-demented. 37–43% of the demented displayed severe CAA in contrast to 7–24% of the non-demented. There was no overlap in the range of these averages and they were less variable and lower than those reported in 38 selected sample studies (demented v non-demented: 32–100 v 0–77% regardless of severity; 0–50 v 0–11% for severe only).
CAA prevalence in populations is consistently higher in the demented as compared to the non-demented. This supports a significant role for CAA in the pathogenesis of dementia.
PMCID: PMC2647900  PMID: 19144113
4.  A comparison of parametric models for the investigation of the shape of cognitive change in the older population 
BMC Neurology  2008;8:16.
Cognitive decline is a major threat to well being in later life. Change scores and regression based models have often been used for its investigation. Most methods used to describe cognitive decline assume individuals lose their cognitive abilities at a constant rate with time. The investigation of the parametric curve that best describes the process has been prevented by restrictions imposed by study design limitations and methodological considerations. We propose a comparison of parametric shapes that could be considered to describe the process of cognitive decline in late life.
Attrition plays a key role in the generation of missing observations in longitudinal studies of older persons. As ignoring missing observations will produce biased results and previous studies point to the important effect of the last observed cognitive score on the probability of dropout, we propose modelling both mechanisms jointly to account for these two considerations in the model likelihood.
Data from four interview waves of a population based longitudinal study of the older population, the Cambridge City over 75 Cohort Study were used. Within a selection model process, latent growth models combined with a logistic regression model for the missing data mechanism were fitted. To illustrate advantages of the model proposed, a sensitivity analysis of the missing data assumptions was conducted.
Results showed that a quadratic curve describes cognitive decline best. Significant heterogeneity between individuals about mean curve parameters was identified. At all interviews, MMSE scores before dropout were significantly lower than those who remained in the study. Individuals with good functional ability were found to be less likely to dropout, as were women and younger persons in later stages of the study.
The combination of a latent growth model with a model for the missing data has permitted to make use of all available data and quantify the effect of significant predictors of dropout on the dropout and observational processes. Cognitive decline over time in older persons is often modelled as a linear process, though we have presented other parametric curves that may be considered.
PMCID: PMC2412911  PMID: 18485192
5.  The frequency and validity of self-reported diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease in the UK elderly: MRC CFAS cohort 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:29.
Estimates of the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases can be made using established cohort studies but these estimates may have lower reliability if based purely on self-reported diagnosis.
The MRC Cognitive Function & Ageing Study (MRC CFAS) has collected longitudinal data from a population-based random sample of 13004 individuals over the age of 65 years from 5 centres within the UK. Participants were asked at baseline and after a two-year follow-up whether they had received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Our aim was to make estimates of the incidence and prevalence of PD using self-reporting, and then investigate the validity of self-reported diagnosis using other data sources where available, namely death certification and neuropathological examination.
The self-reported prevalence of Parkinson's disease (PD) amongst these individuals increases with age from 0.7% (95%CI 0.5–0.9) for 65–75, 1.4% (95%CI 1.0–1.7) for 75–85, and 1.6% (95%CI 1.0–2.3) for 85+ age groups respectively. The overall incidence of self reported PD in this cohort was 200/100,000 per year (95%CI 144–278). Only 40% of the deceased individuals reporting prevalent PD and 35% of those reporting incident PD had diagnoses of PD recorded on their death certificates. Neuropathological examination of individuals reporting PD also showed typical PD changes in only 40%, with the remainder showing basal ganglia pathologies causing parkinsonism rather than true PD pathology.
Self-reporting of PD status may be used as a screening tool to identify patients for epidemiological study, but inevitably identifies a heterogeneous group of movement disorders patients. Within this group, age, male sex, a family history of PD and reduced cigarette smoking appear to act as independent risk factors for self-reported PD.
PMCID: PMC1569859  PMID: 16925826
6.  Population-based neuropathological studies of dementia: design, methods and areas of investigation – a systematic review 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:2.
Prospective population-based neuropathological studies have a special place in dementia research which is under emphasised.
A systematic review of the methods of population-based neuropathological studies of dementia was carried out. These studies were assessed in relation to their representativeness of underlying populations and the clinical, neuropsychological and neuropathological approaches adopted.
Six studies were found to be true population-based neuropathological studies of dementia in the older people: the Hisayama study (Japan); Vantaa 85+ study (Finland); CC75C study (Cambridge, UK); CFAS (multicentre, UK); Cache County study (Utah, USA); HAAS (Hawaï, USA). These differ in the core characteristics of their populations. The studies used standardised neuropathological methods which facilitate analyses on: clinicopathological associations and confirmation of diagnosis, assessing the validity of hierarchical models of neuropathological lesion burden; investigating the associations between neuropathological burden and risk factors including genetic factors. Examples of findings are given although there is too little overlap in the areas investigated amongst these studies to form the basis of a systematic review of the results.
Clinicopathological studies based on true population samples can provide unique insights in dementia. Individually they are limited in power and scope; together they represent a powerful source to translate findings from laboratory to populations.
PMCID: PMC1397861  PMID: 16401346
7.  Self-reported parkinsonian symptoms in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort 
BMC Neurology  2005;5:15.
Parkinsonian symptoms have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Several studies have reported on the prevalence of signs and symptoms. Symptoms questionnaires can identify potential PD cases for further neurological examination to save resources. They can also provide information about how much of the population reports specific signs and symptoms. The objective of the study was to determine the self-reported prevalence of parkinsonian symptoms from a questionnaire, and to examine their association with age and self-reported Parkinson's disease in a large cohort.
A cross-sectional study was conducted within a sub-cohort of the EPIC-Norfolk (European Prospective Investigation of Cancer) cohort study.
The prevalence of six self-reported parkinsonian symptoms are reported for 11539 individuals who answered all symptoms questions (62% of sub-cohort): rest tremor (4%), difficulty starting to walk (4%), difficulty getting out of a chair (6%), slower walking (34%), smaller handwriting (micrographia- 9%), and less acute sense of smell (olfactory dysfunction- 9%). The presence of individual symptoms increased with age except for difficulty getting out of a chair.
The results support previous findings that the presence of self-reported parkinsonian symptoms is strongly associated with age and self-reported PD diagnosis. The data also provide information regarding the prevalence of symptoms in a large, younger population of adults than previously reported in the literature.
PMCID: PMC1208899  PMID: 16120210

Results 1-7 (7)