M.R. van Loenen (Mark)

Promovendus - Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Promovendus - Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

M.R. van Loenen (Mark)

Kapittelweg 29


Postbus 9101

Werkdagen maandag, dinsdag, woensdag, donderdag, vrijdag

I am a PhD candidate within the MOCIA ('Maintaining Optimal Cognition In Ageing') consortium, and I am mainly interested in the brain mechanisms and brain functions at play in cognitive ageing, how brain mechanisms and functioning are ultimately affected by lifestyle pattern changes, and how we can utilize neuroimaging techniques to investigate these brain mechanisms and functioning in-vivo.

On average, humans are getting progressively older over the last century. However, population ageing brings significant challenges to our society. With increasing age, the prevalence of incurable neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's Disease (AD) – the most common form of dementia – increases likewise. Importantly, risk factors for AD include obesity, hypertension, type-II diabetes and physical inactivity. It is very important to realise that these risk factors are modifiable by changes in lifestyle, and indeed, research shows protective effects of lifestyle factors on dementia risk. However, the process of neurodegeneration begins decades before the first cognitive or pathological symptoms become apparent, which highlights the need for an early intervention in addressing cognitive ageing.
In the HELI-study, we will be utilising a broad array of neuroimaging techniques and cognitive testing to:

1. Investigate the effect of a multidomain lifestyle intervention on brain activity during working memory, cerebral perfusion, and cognition
2. Uncover baseline predictors of the lifestyle intervention effects on these measures
3. Investigate individual differences in, and the effect of, adherence to the intervention on these measures

For my MSc thesis I used structural neuroimaging and neuropsychological test data to investigate the predictors and cognitive correlates of incident lacunes in cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) patients. Additionally, I wrote a review about our current understanding of the etiology and lesion fate of small subcortical infarctions in SVD.

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