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Everyday Cognition

by Adriana M. Seelye, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University; Co-Investigator, Oregon Center for Aging & Technology; Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota; Staff Neuropsychologist, Minneapolis VA Health Care System

Dr. Adriana Seelye, an Investigator in the Oregon Center for Aging & Technology (ORCATECH) at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), serves as Principal Investigator on several nationally and regionally funded grants for studies focused on everyday cognitive assessment of older adults using in-home and mobile activity monitoring technologies. She is a recipient of an Oregon Partnership for Alzheimer’s Research (OPAR) research grant, which funds her pilot study “Routine Everyday Activities of Life (REAL) Cognitive Assessment: Application to Driving.” This study explores how monitoring the driving patterns of older adults can be used as a tool for measuring brain health.

Frequency, time of day, routes traveled, and amount of time spent driving are being unobtrusively tracked in a small sample of seniors for 12 months. Results from this study will help researchers and clinicians understand how changes in routine driving habits as people age may be related to risk for developing dementia. Having reliable and noninvasive tools that can identify abnormal brain changes as early as possible will be critical for effective treatment of AD.

Dr. Seelye is also a recipient of a national Alzheimer’s Association New Investigator Research Grant, and is carrying out a pilot study to explore how monitoring patterns of routine home computer use and telephone use can be used as a practical, non-invasive tool to monitor and track brain health in seniors. Receiving grant support from OPAR and the Alzheimer’s Association has provided Dr. Seelye with the opportunity to gather promising preliminary data that will be used to support larger grant applications for continued research in this exciting area of aging and dementia research.

In anticipated future studies, Dr. Seelye plans to recruit a larger sample of older adults to participate in a longitudinal study of in-home and mobile assessment in the areas of computer use, driving, and medication taking. Another area of research interest for Dr. Seelye is developing telehealth-based neuropsychological assessment models targeted to older adults residing in rural communities, with the goal of improving early detection of cognitive decline and access to services for those seniors.

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