Emily McCann

PhD Candidate
Queensland Brain Institute

Brisbane, QLD

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  • Opportunities to collaborate


Australia has an ageing population with dementia diagnoses adding to the disability burden nationwide. A definitive dementia diagnosis is made, on average, 3 years after symptom presentation with further tests determining the specific disease type. Global cognition measures have a heavy focus on memory, courtesy of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and its initial symptoms. Although AD is the most common presentation, there are many others that do not have memory impairments. Dementia patients are often grouped to predict cognitive declines, supporting future clinical trials. The insistence on categorising patient ability often overlooks the variation and fluctuation present in the disease – it is a continuum, not a stage-based progression. Partitioning out and ignoring these changes means the loss of identifiable differences across disease types, making it difficult to identify anything other than AD. Neurodegeneration assessment could benefit from a focus on the posterior cortex and subsequent cognitions, including visuospatial ability. Visuospatial impairment presents early in disease progression and is found across more dementia types although it is not often noticed by patients. My research investigates the development of computerised tests to better assess cognition in neurodegeneration, focusing on visuospatial impairment without the confounding factors of current tests. After accounting for attentional and comprehension abilities, these tests will be pure measurements of posterior visuospatial cognitions. In addition to previous cognitive tests developed in our lab, these computerised diagnostic tests will streamline clinical testing, provide a better estimate of patient cognition, and improve early diagnostic ability.