Aging and aging-related diseases are becoming a global challenge, most urgently in the developed countries (WHO, 2012). In Australia, dementia is the fourth leading cause of overall burden of disease and the third leading cause of disability burden, affecting an estimated 298,000 Australians in 2011 (AIWH, 2012).
Dementia refers to a group of neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia, motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease, as well as dementia due to sports-related head injuries. Each type of dementia has its own signature of symptoms and signs, and is caused by a specific type of pathology in the brain. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease typically presents with memory loss, whereas frontotemporal dementia leads to changes in personality and socio-emotional behaviour.
Dementia becomes increasingly common with age, but it is not part of normal aging.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimated that 23,900 Australians under the age of 65 were living with dementia in 2011. In 2015, this number will be 36,800. Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia are the two leading causes of younger onset dementia, accounting for roughly two thirds of all cases.
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Our research focuses on:
- developing neurobiological markers to inform accurate and early diagnosis in younger-onset dementia
- combine state-of-art neuroimaging and neurophysiological techniques to understand changes to the brain and the body associated with dementia.