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Research at Mass General
The Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab is focused on the study of cognitive and brain changes that may predispose individuals to develop dementia later in life. Understanding the pathophysiology of neurodegeneration and identifying preclinical biomarkers for early diagnosis of dementia, especially as measured by neuropsychology and neuroimaging, are fundamental goals for the lab.
Our research uses a variety multimodal neuroimaging types, including PET, sMRI, fMRI, DTI, and integrates genetic, molecular and neuropsychological data to characterize some of the earliest changes associated with dementia.
Meet the lab members
We recently received funding from the National Institute of Health Office of the Director and the National Institute of Aging to investigate memory network dysfunction as an early marker of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD). For this study, we are comparing a Colombian kindred with early-onset AD with a group of asymptomatic older individuals who are participants in the Harvard Aging Brain Study at Massachusetts General Hospital and are considered at high risk through molecular pathology imaging to develop late onset sporadic AD.
Learn more about our research
Our current projects involve collaborations with investigators at numerous institutions:
Dr. Quiroz is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She completed her PhD training in clinical psychology at Boston University and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at Mass General/Harvard Medical School.
By applying her efforts to a large family that carries a genetic mutation that causes early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Dr. Quiroz’s research has focused on characterizing brain changes that may predispose individuals to develop memory loss or dementia later in life. Her work has already provided evidence of brain abnormalities in cognitively intact individuals at high risk for AD decades before their clinical onset. Her findings have helped the field to re-conceptualize Alzheimer's as a sequence of changes that begins decades before cognitive decline and which may be targeted by promising disease-slowing treatments at a time when they might have their most profound effect. Her research work has resulted in several publications that have generated considerable discussion in the field and has achieved recognition by colleagues at the regional, national and international level.
Dr. Quiroz also serves as the co-director of the Mass General Multicultural Neuropsychology Program (MUNDOS) at the Psychology Assessment Center and the director of the Harvard/Mass General Internship Track in Multicultural Neuropsychology. She has strong clinical interests in the cognitive assessment of monolingual and bilingual Spanish-speaking patients. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling to new places and listening to music.
Dr. Norton began as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab in mid-2015, just after receiving his PhD in Clinical Psychology from Boston University. His background is in clinical psychological science, where he has taken a unique approach to studying psychopathology. He focuses on well-understood brain systems, especially the visual system, as a way to uncover how the brain and mind change in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Most of his previous work has utilized psychophysical and eye tracking methods.
Currently his foci in the Lab are unveiling functional changes in memory systems in AD using fMRI and exploring ways to use eye tracking and psychophysics to add to the battery of biomarkers in AD. He enjoys music, rock climbing, backpacking, fixing things and spending time with his wife and two-year-old son.
Dr. Guzmán-Vélez joined the Lab as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2016. She completed her doctoral training in clinical psychology at the University of Iowa and her internship in neuropsychology at the Boston VA.
Her research has focused on examining the dissociation between declarative memory and emotions in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as on how bilingualism impacts cognition and the brain’s function and structure in older adults. Her current interests in the lab include studying how functional connections in the brain change years before individuals develop symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease (preclinical stage) and how these relate to cognition and genetic factors. She also conducts neuropsychological evaluations in the Mass General Multicultural Neuropsychology Program (MUNDOS). She enjoys cooking, spending time with friends and family, traveling, dancing, and exercising.
Ana received her undergraduate degree with a major in psychology from the University of Antioquia (Colombia), and is currently working towards completing her master’s degree in neuropsychology. She joined the Group of Neuroscience of Antioquia as a neuropsychology psychometrician right after graduation. Ana’s current research interests include the study of risk factors that may affect the progression of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease. For the past two years, she has worked as research study coordinator for Dr. Quiroz’s NIH grant on memory network dysfunction in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.
Valentina received her undergraduate degree with a major in psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She joined the lab in October 2016 as the Boston-site Clinical Research Coordinator for Dr. Quiroz’s project on familial early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Her clinical interests are psychological and biological risk factors for dementia. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking and spending time with family.
Yesica received her undergraduate degree with a major in psychology from the Institución Universitaria de Envigado (Colombia) and is currently working towards completing her master’s degree in neuropsychology. She is part of the Group of Neuroscience of Antioquia, lead by Dr. Francisco Lopera, where she is the research coordinator for Dr. Quiroz’s project on subcortical vascular dementia and CADASIL (Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leucoencephalopathy). Yesica is particularly interested in studying biomarkers of presymptomatic CADASIL.
Our lab is currently focused on two areas of research:
The overall goal of this project is to study the impact of amyloid and tau pathology on memory function in preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their role in subsequent neuronal death and cognitive decline.
This project leverages our access to two extraordinarily rich preclinical AD groups:
The primary goals of this research are to:
This project examines the role of white matter disease and genetic and molecular factors on subtle cognitive decline in preclinical early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and CADASIL (Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leucoencephalopathy).
Quiroz YT, Budson AE, Celone K, Ruiz A, Castrillon G, Lopera F. Hippocampal hyperactivation in pre-symptomatic familial Alzheimer’s disease. Ann Neurol 2010; 68 (6): 865-875.
Quiroz YT, Ally BA, Celone K, Mckeever J, Ruiz A, Lopera F, Stern CE, Budson AE. Event-related potential markers of brain changes in preclinical familial Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2011; 77(5): 469-475.
Fleisher AS, Chen K, Quiroz YT, Jakimovich LJ, Gutierrez-Gomez M, Langois CM, Langbaum JBS, Ayutyanont N, Roontiva A, Thiyyagura P, Lee W, Mo H, Lopez L, Moreno S, Acosta-Baena N, Giraldo M, Garcia G, Reiman RA, Huentelman MJ, Kosik KS, Tariot PN, Lopera F, Reiman EM. Age-associated fibrillar amyloid-β deposition in the presenilin 1 E280A autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease kindred: a cross-sectional study. Lancet Neurol 2012; 11(12):1057-1065.
Reiman EM*, Quiroz YT*, Fleisher AS, Chen K, Velez-Pardo C, Jimenez-Del-Rio M, Fagan AM, Shah AR, Alvarez S, Arbelaez A, Giraldo M, Acosta-Baena N, Sperling RA, Dickerson BC, Stern CE, Tirado V, Munoz C, Reiman RA, Huentelman MJ, Alexander GE, Langbaum JBS, Kosik KS, Tariot PN, Lopera F. Brain abnormalities in young adults at genetic risk for autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurol 2012; 11(12):1048-1056. * Contributed equally
Quiroz YT, Stern CE, Reiman EM, Brickhouse M, Ruiz A, Sperling RA, Lopera F, Dickerson BC. Alzheimer’s disease-signature cortical atrophy in presymptomatic AD presenilin-1 mutation carriers. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2013; 84(5): 556-561.
Rodriguez R, Lopera F, Alvarez A, Fernandez Y, Galan L, Quiroz YT, Bobes MA. Spectral analysis of EEG in familial Alzheimer’s disease due to E280A presenilin-1 mutation. Int Alzheimer's Dis 2014; 2014:180741.
Fleisher AS, Chen K, Quiroz YT, Jakimovich LJ, Gutierrez-Gomez M, Langois CM, Langbaum JBS, Roontiva A, Thiyyagura P, Lee W, Ayutyanont N, Lopez L, Moreno S, Munoz C, Tirado V, Acosta-Baena N, Fagan AM, Giraldo M, Garcia G, Huentelman MJ, Tariot PN, Lopera F, Reiman EM. Associations between biomarkers and age in the presenilin-1 E280A autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease kindred: a cross-sectional study. JAMA Neurol 2015; Jan 12. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.3314.
Quiroz YT, Willment KC, Castrillon G, Muniz M, Lopera F, Budson AE, Stern C. Successful scene encoding in presymptomatic early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. J Alzheimer’s Dis 2015; vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 955-964.
Quiroz YT, Schultz A, Chen K, Protas H, Brickhouse M, Fleisher AS, Langbaum JB, Thiyyagura P, Fagan AM, Shah AR, Muniz M, Arboleda-Velasquez JF, Munoz C, Garcia G, Acosta-Baena N, Giraldo M, Tirado V, Ramirez D, Tariot PN, Dickerson BC, Sperling RA, Lopera F, Reiman EM. Brain imaging and blood biomarker abnormalities in children with autosomal-dominant Alzheimer's disease: A cross-sectional study. JAMA Neurol 2015 Aug 1; 72(8):912-919. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.1099.
Aguirre-Acevedo DC, Lopera F, Henao E, Tirado V, Muñoz C, Giraldo M, Bangdiwala SI, Reiman EM, Tariot PN, Langbaum JB, Quiroz YT, Jaimes F. Cognitive Decline in a Colombian Kindred With Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer Disease: A Retrospective Cohort Study. JAMA Neurol. 2016 Apr;73(4):431-8. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.4851.
Primo V, Graham M, Bigger-Allen AA, Chick JM, Ospina C, Quiroz YT, Manent J, Gygi SP, Lopera F, D'Amore PA, Arboleda-Velasquez JF. Blood biomarkers in a mouse model of CADASIL. Brain Res. 2016 Aug 1; 1644:118-26. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.05.008.
Mormino EC, Papp KV, Rentz DM, Donohue MC, Amariglio R, Quiroz YT, Chhatwal J, Marshall GA, Donovan N, Jackson J, Gatchel JR, Hanseeuw BJ, Schultz AP, Aisen PS, Johnson KA, Sperling RA.Early and late change on the preclinical Alzheimer's cognitive composite in clinically normal older individuals with elevated β-amyloid. Alzheimers Dement. 2017 Feb 27; pii: S1552-5260(17)30044-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2017.01.018.
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