student profile: Miss Carla Haroutonian


Thesis work

Thesis title: Characterising and optimising sleep dependant memory (SDM) in mild cognitive impaired (MCI) subtypes

Supervisors: Angela D'ROZARIO , Sharon NAISMITH , Ian JOHNSTON

Thesis abstract:

Sleep plays a crucial role in the consolidation of new memories overnight in young adults, however the sleep-cognition relationship in older adults is less understood. Age-associated memory decline as well as sleep disturbances are a concern for up to 60% of older people. It is of critical importance to uncouple this relationship between sleep, memory and key brain functions, and how these processes are affected by age. The aim of this study is to identify alterations in sleep microarchitecture as possible clinical biomarkers for cognitive decline and dementia. In addition, to investigate the relationship between brain degeneration by using imaging techniques, key sleep microstructure features assessed by using a 256 channel high density EEG machine, and novel tasks of sleep dependent spatial navigation memory. The implications of these findings speak to new potential biomarkers that can be detected 10-15 years before disease onset and to determine the impact and functions of sleep as a modifiable risk factor. Finally, the research study provides a new non-pharmacological tool for early intervention in order to target abnormal neurophysiological sleep markers and consequently, prevent or reduce the rate of cognitive decline and neurodegeneration.

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