It is well established that psychiatric symptoms are associated with cognitive decline and neural degeneration in older age. While the nature of this association is currently under debate, one prominent view is that dysregulation in the neurology of the stress response may accelerate brain atrophy and cognitive impairment (Sapolsky et al., 1986). This study aims to evaluate this association by looking at the associations between mental health status, biological indicators of stress reactivity, cognitive status, cognitive function and brain structure and function. Furthermore, it aims to identify measurable psychopathology-related risk factors and their predictive potential of prodromal symptoms of neural degeneration. Such measures of variability in cognition, gait and heart rate may facilitate a simple evaluation strategy with high predictive potential.
The researchers working on this study have expertise in neuroendocrine investigations, and the study of intraindividual variability in older age.