Cognitive and Attentional Function in Lewy Body Diseases (CATFieLD)

Fluctuating cognition in Lewy body dementias (LBD) is common, affecting up to 90% of patients. It appears to be qualitatively distinct from the less frequently seen fluctuations in other dementias such as AD. In LBD there appears to be an interruption of awareness which is often associated with transient episodes of confusion and communicative difficulties. Remission to near-normal cognitive function can occur spontaneously in the absence of clear environmental triggers suggesting that fluctuating cognition in LBD is internally driven.

In addition to fluctuating cognition, LBD patients display deficits in attention, executive function and visuo-perceptual processing. Specifically, neuropsychological studies in DLB have noted deficits in attentional function ranging from simple processing speed through to complex attentional tasks requiring significant executive input. Selective attention and the maintenance of vigilance are both impaired. Both fluctuating cognition and attentional deficits have major impact on activities of daily living and evidence suggests they are likely to have a significant role in the formation of the distressing visual hallucinations that frequently accompany LBD.

In the CATFieLD study, we research the physiological and functional changes in LBD that lead to the presence of cognitive fluctuations and attention impairment in patients using multimodal neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (DTI, MRI and fMRI) during behavioral tests and resting state.

Lewy body attention task
Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre

Magnetic resonance imaging scanner at Newcastle's Magnetic Resonance Centre