Nathalie

Novel ways of preventing age‐related cognitive decline: Identifying the role of speech processing deficits in Alzheimer’s disease

The enormous health care and societal costs of an increasing incidence of Alzheimer's dementia (AD) presents a serious challenge for Switzerland, a country with one of the world's oldest populations. Alzheimer's researchers' concerns about the rapid increase in the prevalence of AD in the world's ageing population has led them to expand their focus from AD treatment to AD prevention. A key paper published in The Lancet 2017 argued that the incidence of AD in the population could be significantly reduced by identifying and treating specific modifiable AD risk factors.

Professor Giroud’s research will identify novel ways to assess and characterize conditions associated with age-related hearing loss. Hearing loss is a modifiable AD risk factor common among older adults which may have the greatest potential impact on AD risk reduction. Using neuroimaging techniques with high temporal resolution such as an electroencephalogram (EEG), neural processes during the auditory processing of complex sounds (e.g. human speech carrying linguistic information) will be investigated in real-time in older adults who either have an AD diagnoses or are at risk for developing AD. The results will provide key insights into basic scientific questions about the neurobiology of aging and the neurobiology of language. The study will also help to outline methods for measuring hearing impairment for clinical purposes.

This ambitious and promising research program will benefit from the unique combination of expertise and infrastructure at LiRI  - modern data recording booths, data management, and unique interdisciplinary research teams offering expertise in phonetics, neurolinguistics, syntax, and psycholinguistics. Professor Giroud's research will be using a state-of-the-art stationary EEG system, an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) system, and an isolated sound-proof cabin for the recording of electrophysiological data and the performance of hearing tasks. This equipment, and the sound-proof cabin, microphones and video cameras she will  need for recording voice material and facial voice cues are all based at LiRI.

Nathalie Giroud has recently completed her postdoctoral research studies at Concordia University CN, working on “The Sensory and Cognitive Interface in Mild Cognitively Impaired Older Adults As Revealed By Multimodal Neuroimaging”, a project funded by the SNSF with an Early Postdoc.Mobility grant (nr 174865).

Grants for this proposal awarded to Professor Nathalie Giroud:

  1. Postdoc-Forschungskredit University of Zurich, title: “Preventing age-related cognitive decline: The role of speech processing deficits in dementia”, Nr. FK-19-072, period: August 1st 2019 – August 31st 2020, amount: CHF 166'183
  2. SNSF-PRIMA scholarship, title: “Novel ways of preventing age-related cognitive decline: Identifying the role of speech processing deficits in Alzheimer’s disease”, Nr. PR00P1_185715, period: Sept 1st 2020-August 31st 2025