We all age, but why do some of us age better than others? This question is especially poignant for the field of cognitive ageing, with the prevalence of dementia rising each year.
At the University of Sussex, the Ageing & Dementia team is exploring the molecular, neural and cognitive mechanisms through which a particular gene – the APOE gene – exerts its influence on cognitive ageing. The APOE gene consists of 3 variants (e2, e3, and e4), of which each person carries a pair (eg. e2e2 or e3e4). Those who carry an e4 variant of the gene have a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The gene is also associated with poorer cognitive ageing in healthy adults.
Of interest, the APOE gene is observed to influence cognitive functioning from as early as childhood. Therefore, a crucial avenue of research is exploring how these effects emerge and develop across the lifespan.
We are currently seeking healthy adults aged 18-30 years or 45- 55 years to take part in a research study exploring the influence of APOE variants on our ability to do cognitive tasks that vary in how challenging they are. The study involves a computerized task in which volunteers are required to juggle various cognitive demands in order to succeed. In addition, volunteers will be asked to complete a series of short verbal tasks and questionnaires. Volunteers will also be asked to complete an inner-cheek swab used to determine APOE genotype. We operate under ethical rules that mean neither the participant nor the researcher knows the outcome of the cheek swab. All data will be kept confidential.