Ageing and dementia research in Psychology

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The Researchers

Prof. Jennifer Rusted –Professor Emerita of Psychology

Jenny’s research interest span 30 years of work exploring a. the neurochemical bases of age- and dementia- related changes in memory and cognition; b. the impact and neural signature of APOE on memory and cognition across the lifespan; c. the longitudinal study of memory decline and behavioural change in activities of daily living in people with dementia.  

Dr. Alexa Morcom – Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience

Alexa's research focuses on human memory and how it changes in normal ageing. Her group uses brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI), electrophysiological event-related potentials (ERPs) and behavioural methods. She is particularly interested in how memory for specific events - episodic memory- works, and how episodic memory and its brain substrates change during the adult lifespan.

Dr. Eleanor Miles – Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Eleanor’s core research is on self-regulation, and how it interacts with emotional, physical and social functioning. She leads a workstream on the DETERMIND project, aiming to find out more about the impact of emotion regulation on decision making and quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.

Dr. Claire Lancaster – Research Fellow in Psychology

Claire’s research focuses on how the detrimental effects of carrying an APOE4 risk variant emerge across the lifespan; specifically, whether patterns of deviant brain activity contribute to very subtle changes in memory and executive function in this high-risk group. Drawing on the link between epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease, I am exploring whether pharmacologically modifying the brain activity of APOE e4 gene carriers can reduce their risk of future dementia.

Dr. Sarah King – Reader in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Sarah’s research uses genetically altered mice to understand how different genes impact the brain and behaviour. Using mice carrying human versions of the APOE gene, we hope to tease out the neurobiological processes that put some people at a greater risk of dementia, and how we can reverse that risk. 

Dr. Catherine Hall – Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Catherine’s research focused on the regulation of the brain's energy supply (neurovascular coupling) and how it varies during different brain states, across different brain regions and at the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and obesity.

Dr Darya Gaysina - Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Darya’s research seeks to understand how common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression can affect brain ageing. We want to understand what affects vulnerability, who seeks support, why people respond to treatments in different ways, and if treatments can improve ageing processes.

Prof. Chris Bird – Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

Chris’s research is on episodic memory – our memory for events – and the brain regions that support these different memory processes. His lab uses a mixture of behavioural studies, fMRI studies of healthy adults and neuropsychological studies of adults with memory problems caused by neurological damage (such as damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease).


What we do

  • Cognitive Ageing

    As we get older, we all experience changes in our thinking abilities. We use neuropsychological models to design thinking tasks which allow us to explore how and why cognition changes with age.

  • Think Brain Health

    The Ageing & Dementia group prioritises research into how we can promote healthy brain ageing across the lifespan. As part of this, we study how our genes affects brain structure and function, our thinking abilities, and the impact of lifestyle and our physical health from early adulthood. Our methods include the design and administration of cognitive tasks, neuroimaging, psychopharmacology, genetics (including mouse models).

  • Living well with Dementia

    Researchers from the School of Psychology are co-investigators in two major longitudinal studies exploring what makes the most difference when it comes to living with dementia after a diagnosis. The IDEAL programme, the largest study of living well with dementia in Great Britain,  explores the experiences of people living with dementia and their carers. The DETERMIND project explores the differences in the level and quality of care between individuals with dementia, studying why care is unequal and what this means for people’s  quality of life. 


Participate in our research

Projects currently recruiting:

Understanding the effect of the APOE e4 gene across the lifespan

The APOE e4 gene variant – the most well establish genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease, is carried by ~ 20% of the population and is known to influence how our thinking abilities and brain develop all the way from youth. The APOE e2 gene variant in contrast, is thought to be protective but relatively little is known about this rare variant. Adults of all ages are encouraged to join our ‘APOE database’. We will send you a kit for collecting your DNA and let you know about opportunities to get involved in research concerning this gene. To get started contact Dr Claire Lancaster (

It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it

Speech is increasingly recognised to be an important and early marker of neurodegenerative disease. We are looking for individuals of all ages, both with and without a dementia diagnosis, to take part in research looking at how we retrieve items from memory when speaking aloud. Computational techniques will be used to analyse the language you use, plus characteristics of the speech itself such as the pauses between your between words. Get involved by contacting PhD student Alice Stanton: (

Mental health and brain ageing

Anxiety and depression are common mental health problems in older adults and they can affect brain ageing. Yet, we do not fully understand what affects vulnerability, who seeks support, why people respond to treatments in different ways, and if treatments can improve ageing processes. The EDGE lab wants to engage with clinicians and policy makers, as well as with older people and their families. Please, contact Dr Gaysina ( if you want to get involved.