Dr Liz Coulthard - University of Bristol
Dr Liz Coulthard has received significant funding from BRACE since 2010 for a wide range of projects and research studies.
In 2010, Dr Liz set up the ReMemBr group, with significant funding from BRACE. The dementia research group has neurologists, psychologists and researchers from the North Bristol Trust and the University of Bristol. The ReMemBr group diagnoses and treats people with dementia and also offers clinical research opportunities to people with or without dementia.
Fastball - Early Alzheimer's Test
Dr Liz was a co-applicant with Dr George Stothart in the pilot study funded by BRACE to develop the Fastball technique for earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
Currently diagnosis of dementia occurs too late, often up to 20 years after the disease's onset. There is a need for quicker diagnosis of dementia so patients can get earlier treatment or plan. This study tested electroencephalography (EEG) coupled with fast-periodic-visual stimulation, this technique involved watching flashing images on a screen, as a method of earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
EEGs are noninvasive and affordable and provide objective measures of cognitive functions.
Participants were shown streams of pictures at a very fast rate, while wearing the Fastball device EEG measures the brain waves, indicating whether the patients can tell different pictures apart.
The Fastball technique can detect changes in memory processing related to Alzheimer’s, even if these changes are not evident in behavioural or symptoms observations. This study found that Fastball had a higher accuracy in classifying Alzheimer’s compared to behavioural measures of memory recognition.
This pilot showed that a fastball can detect early-stage Alzheimer’s, and it works regardless of the language spoken by patients.
The findings from the initial study were published in the BRAIN Journal in September, 2021. and attracted international attention due to the revolutionary approach, on World Alzheimer's Day.
In 2022 BRACE funded a follow-up PhD studentship into Fastball, to investigate whether this technique can be developed to diagnosis non-Alzheimer's dementia, such as vascular, Lewy body or frontotemporal dementia.
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