Preamble

The Psychology Department Dementia Research Group is composed of staff and PhD students actively engaged in a wide range of research investigating subjective cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and various aetiologies of dementia.  We employ a wide range of techniques and methodologies in our qualitative (focus-group based studies) and quantitative research including psychophysics, EEG, eye tracking, Neuroimaging, brain stimulation and mobile device technology.

A brief synopsis of the research interests of each of us is included below; please follow the tab links for further information about our research and publications.

The Group is co-directed by Prof. Andrea Tales and Dr Jeremy Tree

Prof. Andrea Tales

n/a

(PhD, MSc Oxon, BSc. Hons, DCRT, MBPsS)

My particular interest is the characterisation of mild and subjective cognitive impairment, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in relation to brain functions other than memory. Studies performed by colleagues and I, indicate that, in addition to changes in memory, a wide range of vision and attention-related brain functions can also be significantly abnormal in such conditions. As the integrity of vision and attention are fundamental requirements for the awareness of change within the environment and thus appropriate responses, a reduction in the functional integrity of such aspects of processing can be expected to detrimentally affect the ability of an individual to interact with their environment and indeed socially. I have used a variety of techniques to investigate vision and attention in cognitively healthy ageing, subjective and mild cognitive impairment and dementia including, psychophysics (inhibition, attentional shifting and phasic alerting) &, EEG (visual mismatch negativity), MEG and MRI. I have a particular interest in trying to improve the number of participants taking part in cognitive impairment and dementia-related research and in ensuring that their ‘research experience’ is a very positive one. Colleagues and I have therefore produced a not-for-profit freely downloadable booklet entitled ‘Tips for Researchers’  which provides guidance for individuals just starting out on their research career in this area.

Dr Jeremy Tree

Dr Jeremy Tree

(B.A.(Hons), MSc, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FHEA)

Jeremy Tree is a psychologist with a research interest in understanding the consequences of brain damage on various forms of cognitive function. In previous published research Jeremy has considered cognitive impairment in the field of face processing, memory and language – in all cases this research sought to better understand how these processes work in the rest of us as well as provide clues to better remediation of these conditions in patients. He has been involved in the cognitive assessment of patients with a variety of etiologies (including stroke, head injury and dementia). In the context of neurodegenerative disease he has a particular interest in primary progressive aphasia (PPA) – typically linked to focal atrophic change seen in Fronto-Temporal dementia or Cortical-Basal degeneration. Primary progressive aphasia had been seen as a single language impairment ‘syndrome’ – it has since been divided into sub-variants. Jeremy’s research has been both key to determining how to characterize these sub-variants of PPA, as well as understanding the nature of language impairments seen in dementia relative to ‘classical’ aphasic vascular/stroke presentations (e.g. Broca’s/Wernicke’s). Jeremy has an honorary contract as a research neuropsychologist in AMBU, he is an Associate Fellow and chartered by the BPS and is HPC registered as a practitioner psychologist. He is also the director of the Abnormal and Clinical MSc, one of the largest taught masters at the University of Swansea.

Research Interests

Nasreen Saleh Basoudain

Nasreen Saleh Basoudain (BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Clinical Psychology)

I am currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology, at Swansea University.The title of my PhD is, A neuropsychological investigation of anxiety in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.  Ageing is a common concern for all members of society. The topic comes up daily in many different contexts, yet, there is much that remains to be learned about the issue. One area of investigation that has not been researched enough is closely related to anxiety and its relationship to inhibitory cognitive control and the inability of the body to tune out stimuli that are otherwise irrelevant within a given situation. To this end, we seek to identify the impact of anxiety upon inhibitory cognitive control in older and younger individuals. This study is one of three studies that will be conducted as part of an overall larger investigation on the correlation between anxiety, inhibitory processing, emotional memory, information processing speed and variability, visual attention, sleep disturbance, and memory consolidation in aging. The successful completion of this study will aid in improving our understanding of the effects of anxiety on populations of different ages, and will help our understanding of whether anxiety can influence various aspects of information processing in these groups and any interactions between factors such as anxiety and sleep and information processing functionality. This study will lead into the next study, which will focus on these same areas of effect in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof. Mark Blagrove

Prof. Mark Blagrove (MA (CANTAB); PhD)

Part of my research involves the study of the relationship between sleep and cognition, including effects of sleep loss; memory consolidation functions of sleep; causes and possible functions of dreaming; nightmares; and lucid dreams. In relation to dementia, our research centres on the relationship between sleep and memory consolidation in cognitively healthy ageing, subjective and mild cognitive impairment and various aetiologies of dementia. We are also interested in investigating the underlying factors for sleep disturbances commonly experienced by individuals living with dementia.

Panagiotis Boutris

Panagiotis Boutris

I am currently a PhD student at Swansea University. My research interests are in cognitive reserve and how it affects the onset and/or progress of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, fronto-temporal dementia, Parkinson’s and others. My PhD focuses specifically on one aspect of cognitive reserve, language. I am interested to see how language is affected by these diseases and how it can be used as a means for early diagnosis and/or as a protective factor, especially in people who know two languages, either from birth (balanced bilinguals) or having learnt the second language later in their lives (unbalanced bilinguals).

Dr Hana Burianová

Dr Hana Burianová (BSc(Hon), MA, PhD)

My research focuses on investigating the impact of ageing and neurodegeneration on the functional and structural connectivity of underlying brain networks. Using multimodal imaging (structural MRI, task-related & resting state functional MRI, and diffusion-weighted imaging) and multivariate analytical methods, my research examines critical neuroplasticity biomarkers that predispose healthy older adults to the pathogenesis of specific neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. In particular, I investigate reorganization of structural and functional brain networks that give rise to long-term memory retrieval and working memory. Whilst aberrant memory processing is known to be a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, the severe impact of neurodegeneration on memory and language in Parkinson's disease has been understudied. My ultimate goal is to understand the mechanisms that are responsible for the underlying neuronal dysfunction, in order to improve current diagnostic and therapeutic methods.

Research Interests

Carole Butler

Carole Butler (BA Hons, MPhil)

In July 2016 I started a PhD funded by The Healthcare Management Trust under the supervision of Dr. Sarah Hillcoat-Nalletamby (Centre for Innovative Ageing) and Professor Andrea Tales (Department of Psychology). The research aims to develop, pilot and evaluate an innovative intergenerational intervention to enhance person-centred care for older people with dementia living in residential homes. The intervention will create opportunities for older residents and younger people from the community to come together and engage in activities relating to the preparation and sharing of food.  The study aims to explore the impact of the intervention on residents with dementia, younger people and paid carers to inform future practice and assess the likelihood of sustainability.

Alecia Cousins

Alecia Cousins (BSc Hons, MSc)

I began my PhD in September 2015 investigating the effects of changes in hydration status upon cognitive performance and behaviour under the supervision of Professor David Benton and Dr. Hayley Young. Currently, I am conducting an intervention study which looks at how manipulating hydration levels may impact upon facets of cardiovascular and cognitive functioning within an older adult population. This particular branch of research aims to provide a better understanding of the effects of small changes of an individual’s hydration status upon such physiological and cognitive factors, within a population at greater risk of experiencing mild dehydration on a day to day basis. Research such as this carries an important contribution to the overall understanding of pathological aging.

Claire Hanley

Claire Hanley

My research centres on modulating and measuring neural activity. I have a particular interest in plasticity and how our brains adapt and develop as part of the ageing process. Through the use of selected behavioural paradigms and neuroimaging techniques, designed to investigate neurochemistry (magnetic resonance spectroscopy; MRS) and electrophysiology (magnetoencephalography; MEG), a comprehensive view of neural change across the lifespan can be obtained. In addition to these techniques, neurostimulation methods (e.g. transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)) provide causal inferences on the influence of such changes on specific brain regions and diffuse neural networks. Neurostimulation can equally be used to address the functional implications of healthy and pathological ageing on aspects of daily life. These methods also offer the potential to regulate aspects of abnormal brain function and may have particularly valuable applications to the study of dementia.

Amy Jenkins

Amy Jenkins (BSc (Hons), MSc, MSc)

I am a research fellow with an interest in: (i) The characterisation of subjective cognitive impairment (SCI): visual attention related processing, memory, anxiety, depression, personality and quality of life; (ii) The care pathways for people with SCI: the impact on the person, the health service and what can be done to improve it; (iii) The use of mobile technology for testing older adults cognitive functioning: design and usability of digital devices, the monitoring of cognitive functioning, and creative collaborative working.

For more information please see my Research Gate page or Personal Website.

Areas of Expertise

  • Neuropsychology
  • Subjective Cognitive Impairment
  • Ageing and Gerontology
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Visual Attention Related Processing

Research Interests

Samuel Kyle Jones

Samuel Kyle Jones

My research focuses on the effects of bilingualism on dementia, particularly the language deficits such as progressive aphasia. Initial studies will investigate the role of cognitive reserve, which has been implicated as a significant factor that accounts for much of the individual differences found in the rate of cognitive decline across dementia patients. By linking the, thus far, disparate attentional and language based definitions of cognitive reserve we hope to provide a more ecologically valid and holistic measure of cognitive decline. Based on the findings of this portion of the study we will then go on to investigate the differences between English monolinguals and Welsh-English bilinguals. Exploring what those differences can tell us about the nature of dementia, and how this information can be used to prevent or slow the symptoms of aphasia, potentially allowing individuals to communicate for longer.

Dr Steve Johnston

Dr Steve Johnston (PhD)

My research is predominantly in the areas of attention, and real-time imaging methods. Specifically I am interested in the factors that lead to altered deployment of attention, both in terms of differences in an individual's state and their personality traits. With real-time imaging I focus on using the technique to observe neuro-plastic changes associated with developing volitional control of the activity of specific brain regions.

Dr Andrew H. Kemp

Dr Andrew H. Kemp, PhD

My research spans affective neuroscience and health psychology through to epidemiology, bridging the gap between biological mechanism and longterm public health. My research adopts a multi-pronged strategy to better understand the links between emotion, physical health and longevity including focused hypothesis-driven experimentation, meta-analysis and epidemiological study. My work has drawn on a variety of techniques including EEG, ERP, ECG, fMRI and genetics, and involves studies on healthy participants and individuals with mood and anxiety disorders.

Emma Richards

Emma Richards (MBPsS, BSc (Hons), MSc Psych, PGCE (PcET))

I am a PhD student conducting a new and innovative study into vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular disease is a major cause of cognitive impairment and dementia but this is under-investigated and poorly characterised compared to Alzheimer’s disease.

Mild cognitive impairment is a clinical term used to describe the presence of cognitive abnormality greater than expected in relation to a person’s age and level of education and can represent an increased risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Despite its high prevalence in the community, mild cognitive impairment in relation to vascular dementia is not a current research priority with research tending to focus predominantly on Alzheimer’s disease. The study aims to improve the characterisation of vascular-related mild cognitive impairment and vascular dementia compared to healthy ageing, with respect to signs, symptoms, behaviour and quality of life, and to investigate changes in brain function in vascular-related mild cognitive impairment that may help to better determine when it represents the early stages of vascular dementia. I will be testing a wide range of computer and iPad-based brain functions in vascular-related mild cognitive impairment and vascular dementia in addition to those measured as part of routine clinical assessments, including those related to vision, attention, executive function and processing speed and accuracy.

Research Interests

Richard Summers

Richard Summers

I'm about to begin my PhD at Swansea University. The aim of my research is to explore therapeutic interventions in the domain of cognitive neuroscience.  It uses real time neuro-imaging methods to further understand how Neurofeedback can be applied.  Under the guidance and supervision of Prof. Andrea Tales and technical supervision and guidance out Associate Prof. Stephen Johnston, I am excited to see how the investigation unfolds.  Prior to returning to university to complete my master's degree, I have spent many years in the healthcare and training profession.  It was during this time that I came to realise how essential good research is to improving the quality of life of the aged and individuals with mental infirmity.

Anna Torrens-Burton

Anna Torrens-Burton

I am in the second year of my PhD. My main area of interest is Subjective Cognitive Impairment (SCI). In SCI an individual notices a change in their cognition but on objective cognitive testing no significant abnormality is detected. As there is evidence to suggest that SCI can be a risk factor for further cognitive decline and a poorer quality of life, it is important to know as much about is as possible. Thus in my PhD I aim to improve the characterization of SCI; specifically my research is looking at the potential relationship between perceived changes in memory and thinking skills and reaction time and attention-related processing.

Dr Hayley Young

Dr Hayley Young (PhD)

My interests include the influence of lifestyle on healthy aging, in particular how nutritional products and dietary regimes influence the aging brain with consequences for cognition and mood. Past and current research includes studies that have considered the neurocognitive effects of carbohydrates that modulate blood glucose and how these interact with individual differences in glucoregulation. I have a particular interest in the glycaemic load of the diet and whether, via particular mechanisms, this contributes to the onset of vascular dementia.  My most recent line of research involves determining the cognitive and psychological consequences of minor changes in hydration (less than 1%). The ability to regulate fluid balance in response to fluid deprivation or dehydration is compromised in older individuals contributing to a range of morbidities including declines in memory. As the sensation of thirst decreases with aging understanding the neurobiological reasons for this may lead to interventions aimed at enhancing older adults’ fluid intake.

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Swansea University Cognitive Impairment & Dementia Research Group