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Exploring the Causes of Dementia in an Aging Population

Full Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Internal Medicine III, School of Medicine

OHTA Yasuyuki

Dementia, especially Alzheimer's-type dementia, is increasing as the population ages in Japan. The elderly develops dementia, because proteins such as amyloid-β and tau build up with age and form abnormal structures in the brain, resulting in neuronal (nerve cell) death and the deterioration of cerebral functions related to cognition. Society is calling for the prevention and early treatment of dementia. Given this context, the relationship between frailty, which is a state of motor dysfunction due to aging, and the onset of dementia has been focused. We have investigated that the impaired walking function in frail patients reflects a decline in cerebral function due to aging, and is related to a decline in cognitive function. In collaboration with other universities and companies, we are currently using various gait analysis tools based on machine learning technology, i.e., artificial intelligence (AI), to analyze the walking function of healthy elderly people in Yamagata Prefecture. We are also examining pathologies related to walking and cognitive function by analyzing brain imaging and blood samples. Our goal is to ascertain the pathology of dementia in an aging population and to develop methods of prevention and treatment.

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