Published: 24-11-2020 12:42 | Updated: 24-11-2020 12:45

Thesis explores important aspects related to dementia

Illustration of ageing and dementia; a silhouette of an old man with a stick walking on a road, a large tree and a clock in the background.
Genre image by Gerd Altmann, downloaded from Pixabay. Photo: Public Domain

Hi there Giulia Grande, PhD student at the Aging Research Center (ARC). You will be defending your thesis entitled “Development of dementia in older adults: the body-mind connection” on 11 December 2020. Could you give us a brief summary?

Portrait of Giulia Grande, doctoral student at ARC, standing inside with her arms crossed and smiling at the camera.
Giulia Grande, PhD student at ARC. Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

“With this thesis I explored two of the most important aspects related to dementia, which are its timely prediction and its prevention. To date, no pharmacological interventions have been shown to be effective in curing dementia, and therefore the identification of modifiable risk factors is now considered a priority.”

Which are the most important results?

“With the first two studies, we found that the assessment of motor function in individuals with cognitive impairment allows to more accurately and timely predict future dementia."

"This result was supported by the fact that fast cognitive and motor decline in older adults was accompanied by a mixed and rapidly developing brain pathology.”

“The last two studies focused on the importance of comorbidities and air pollution on the risk of developing dementia. Among other things, we found that older adults with neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular diseases displayed the greatest risk of developing dementia.”

“Interestingly, cardiovascular diseases could be of relevance when explaining the relation between air pollution and dementia.”

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?

“Further exploring the relation between body and mind related conditions could be essential in identifying at risk populations and biomarkers for incipient dementia, and thus, in advancing our understanding of dementia in older adults.”

Will you keep on conducting research in the future? 

“Yes, indeed! I will most definitely continue doing research in the field of dementia in older adults!”


Giulia Grande Postdoctoral Researcher