EwersLab: Brain Imaging and Biomarker Research Group
We are interested in the detection of brain changes that precede the manifestation of dementia symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease. A first major focus is the detection of protective brain mechanisms that delay the onset of cognitive impairment. Another topic of our research is the development of markers for the early detection of AD. We primarily employ fMRI and DTI-based analysis of functional networks along with biochemical analysis of cerebrospinal fluid markers.
Early life-experiences such as education and higher IQ enhance cognitive reserve, i.e. mitigate the impact on brain pathology on cognition in AD. Using DTI, multi-task fMRI and combined EEG-fMRI, we map functional networks associated with protective factors. We recently identified a highly connected hub in the frontal cortex as a key brain region underlying cognitive reserve in AD. We are testing non-invasive techniques such as tDCS and TMS to enhance such functional brain mechanisms.
Together with Prof. Yaakov Stern (Columbia University, USA) and Prof. Gael Chetelat (INSERM, France) we recently initiated the professional interested area (PIA) on “Reserve, resilience and protective factors” hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association, open to any interested collaborators.
For our second major research topic, i.e. the development of markers for the prediction of AD, we are combining multi-modal imaging and biochemical markers. In VASCAMY, (vascamy.isdstudies01.eu) a study funded by the EU and performed in cognitively normal and mild AD subjects, we currently investigate the interaction between early key pathologies (e.g. Aß and ischemic white matter changes). We use pattern recognition algorithms to extract the best combination of markers for the prediction of cognitive decline and early diagnostic classification.
Another area currently moving into the focus of our research are markers of the brain’s neuroimmune response in AD. Together with our collaborator Prof. Christian Haass (DZNE, Munich), we found changes in CSF TREM2, a marker of microglia activity, to occur up to 5 years before the onset of AD dementia. We are currently investigating the potentially protective effects of TREM2 in AD.
Contact: Prof. Dr. Michael Ewers
Sectretary: Hedwig Pietsch