Entry for:Research in a nutshell
In Australia, dementia is currently the second leading cause of death. With increases in our ageing population, the number of people living with dementia is expected to almost triple by 2050.
When most people hear about dementia, they picture elderly people with memory loss. But not all types of dementia start with memory loss. There are many different types of dementia. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease, which affects the parts of the brain responsible for memory. In other types of dementia, such as frontotemporal dementia, the first symptoms include changes in personality and behaviour. These are often more distressing and difficult to deal with than memory problems, yet poorly understood.
My research investigates behavioural symptoms in dementia and the underlying brain changes that cause these symptoms. To assess behavioural changes, I interview patients and their families, and administer cognitive and behavioural tests at the Frontier Frontotemporal Dementia Research Clinic. I then analyse the relationship between these symptoms and areas of brain degeneration measured on patients’ MRI scans. By understanding the cause of behavioural symptoms, this research will help us develop more targeted treatment therapies, thereby improving the lives of many people living with dementia.
Stephanie Wong is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Frontier Frontotemporal Dementia Research Group at the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney. She has a background in Clinical Neuropsycholo...