Memory Disorder Research Opportunities

Ongoing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research projects

Our Memory Disorder Clinic works closely with the Florida Institute of Technology to conduct applied research projects. Our goal is to advance the knowledge and care of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, as well as their family caregivers. 

All research projects are reviewed and approved through an institutional review board.

Call 321.434.7613 if you are interested in participating in a research project.


Current research projects

Kissinger-Knox, A., Vagt, D., Vallejo-Luces, T., Mulligan, K, & Webbe, F. M. Impact on clinical diagnosis in a memory clinic sample of lowering the scoring threshold of Part B of the Trailmaking Test

This project aims to assess whether extension of the standard 5 minutes to complete Part B of the Trailmaking Test will alter the differential diagnosis of Memory Clinic patients. Rather than terminating the Test at 45 minutes if the patient has not finished, the examiner will allow the Test to continue as long as the patient is making progress. For current diagnostic purposes, the Test will be scored based upon the 5-minute standard. Data gathered from allowing the Test to continue will be scored according to a newly validated protocol and the outcome will be added to the other measures that comprise the executive functioning and attention and concentration domains of functioning to determine if a difference in categorization occurs. This project will continue for 12 months in anticipation of obtaining a sufficient number of participants (goal of 200 participants).

Vallejo-Luces, T., Vagt, D, Kissinger-Knox, A., Gonzalez, G., Srinivasan, V., Mulligan, K., & Webbe, F. Effect of CPAP Compliance on a Cognitive Screening Test in a Memory Clinic Population with Sleep Apnea.

This project aims to determine whether compliance with physician prescription of CPAP will alter (improve) scores on the MoCA and on domains of the Brief Neuropsychological Evaluation in normal and demented memory clinic patients. The best practices assumption based upon a small literature is that use of CPAP will prop up cognitive functioning. However, compliance has frequently not been well documented and several studies have used only screening measures such as the MMSE to draw this conclusion. This project aims to include up to 100 participants).

Boozer, E. M., Mulligan, K., & Webbe, F. M. Relationship of Initial Symptoms and the Accuracy of Dementia Diagnosis in a Brain Bank Program.

This study will examine the relationship of dementia diagnoses based on neuropsychological testing to final diagnosis of dementia based on neuropathology following brain autopsy. The accuracy rate of clinical diagnoses of various types of dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, mixed dementia, and others, will be identified. Initial reported symptoms of dementia will also be examined to analyze how accurately these first complaints predict a clinical diagnosis. The neuropathological outcomes as well as pre-mortem information will be catalogued from participants who are both enrolled in the Florida Brain Bank and received neuropsychological testing at the Memory Disorder Clinic. It is hypothesized that overall diagnostic accuracy rates with be lower for those with overlapping brain pathologies than those with a pure dementia syndrome. Neuropsychological domains identified as impaired will be different among neuropathological diagnoses. Initial behavior complaint symptoms will differ between neuropathological diagnoses. The presence of plaques and/or tangles in the brain will correlate to performance on various neuropsychological instruments. Brain weight measurements will significantly differ among neuropathological diagnostic categories, and senile plaque and neurofibrillary table lesion counts will differ between neuropathological diagnoses. This project aims for collection of data from 100 participants.

Buchanan, A. S., & Harvey, A. An Evaluation of Procedures to Increase Recall Behavior in Adults Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.

According to recent statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5.1 million people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss, a debilitating effect of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). A profound loss of memory is not a part of normal aging; rather it is a disease process that reduces health and quality of life for many elders, leading to placement in assisted living facilities or skilled nursing homes. One of the hallmarks of ADRD includes the loss of vocal-verbal recall of information, which often leads caregivers to refer a loved one for an initial assessment. Difficulty with remembering information such as appointments, or having difficulty with word-finding presents a problem for many diagnosed individuals. A limited, but growing amount of research demonstrates effective strategies for enhancing vocal-verbal recall in elders with dementia, and shows some promise. The two interventions with the most empirical support to date include teaching recall using echoic training, which is, repeating words to enhance recall, and intraverbal operants such as answering a question or filling in the blank regarding an upcoming obligation. The purpose of this study is to evaluate these two interventions and propose an approach that most effectively increases recall and maintains words over time using a multi-element design. Three participants were used in this study.

Evaluation of the Effects of Lighting on Activity Patterns and Behavior Problems in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias

Celeste Harvey - This project is not funded through the MDC but rather is an outpouring of relationships built through the ECFMDC and research committee. ECFMDC currently serves in a consultative role in the development of the project. This project involves the ADI respite provider and other partners including ECFMDC, HFAS, FIT, the lighting company, and others.

The general purpose of this study is to evaluate and assess potential changes in sleep, activity levels, and behavior patterns of elders with ADRD under varied lighting conditions at an adult daycare program, the ADI respite provider in Brevard County. There have been conversations about inclusion of MDC patients being referred to this study but at this point it is not defined and so will not include a number of participants for this research project.