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Cognitive Ageing and Dementia Research Lab

Dr Antonina Pereira - CPsychol, PhD, FHEA, AFBPsS
​A.Pereira@chi.ac.uk

As average human life expectancy rises, so does the impact of ageing and age-related diseases in our society which is evident through the dramatic increment in the number of people with dementia (e.g. Alzheimer's disease) which is currently at 36million and estimated to nearly double every 20 years, to 66 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050.

That is why serious attention needs to be paid to the understanding of the mechanisms involved in healthy ageing and cognitive impairment across the lifespan.

In our lab, we develop innovative techniques which can not only contribute to an early identification of neurodegenerative processes as well as positively influence the personal activities of daily living for both healthy and cognitively impaired older adults.

Current projects and available participation opportunities 

Our research is focussed on the design and implementation of ground-breaking strategies that might positively influence activities of daily living in diversified contexts ranging from the workplace to domestic settings which might be crucial to the achievement of personal and professional well-being in everyday lives.

Our studies aim to continuously explore the complex systems involved in development and ageing at the level of psychology, neuroscience and society so as to contribute to a deeper understanding of the impact of the aging process on everyday well-being across the lifespan as well as to the early identification of the neurodegenerative processes and its consequences on quality of life at work and at home.

Our research has been greatly stimulated by our panel of over 170 volunteers who have taken part in the different studies developed by our well-being focused research center - POWER.

Our lab is always looking for volunteers to take part in our research. If you would like to volunteer then please contact us via email A.Pereira@chi.ac.uk.

Some recent past projects

Sustaining Prospective Memory Functioning in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: a Lifespan Approach to the Critical Role of Encoding.

Prospective memory (PM), the ability to remember to perform future activities, is a fundamental requirement for independent living. PM tasks pervade our daily lives, and PM failures represent one of the most prominent memory concerns across the entire life span. This research project aims to address this issue by exploring the potential benefits of specific encoding strategies on memory for intentions across healthy adulthood and in the early stages of cognitive impairment.

Memory complaints in amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: more prospective or retrospective?

Patients with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI), usually considered an early stage of Alzheimer's disease, have deficits not only in retrospective memory (RM), that is, recalling of past events, words or people, but also on prospective memory (PM), the cognitive ability of remembering to execute delayed intentions in the future. This research project aims to investigate whether patients with aMCI refer more PM complaints as compared with RM complaints, and whether this might depend upon short-term vs long-term items or time-based vs event-based tasks.

Untangling aging effects of intentions and actions: A Complex Hierarchical Model of Prospective Memory.

Remembering to perform future activities is a fundamental requirement for independent living. This includes tasks such as remembering to pick up the milk, where prospective memory (PM) failures may lead to inconvenience, but also tasks where failures can have serious and even life‐threatening consequences, such as remembering to take medication. It is therefore unsurprising that failures of PM are one of the most prominent memory concerns across the entire human lifespan. Measurement models of age differences in PM are very scarce and have generally failed to produce consistent results. This research project aims to establish a model that effectively explains the variance in objective measures of PM for both young and older adults where cognitive ability, complexity of the ongoing task and perceived cognitive efficiency might be mediators of the complex relationship between PM and age.

Behavioural changes in dementia and their impact on professional caregivers.

Professional caregivers often recognize, as part of their everyday practice, an eventual deterioration in relationships between themselves as professional caregivers and the residents, but also between the residents and their family members and among residents themselves. Importantly, understanding patients’ behaviour and behavioural change has consistently been identified as a crucial factor to achieve and sustain good relationships between professionals and residents suffering with dementia. This research project aims to explore the impact that changes in behavioural symptoms of people living with dementia have on professional caregiver and resident relationships

Collaborations

  • Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour of the Centre for Cognition, Radboud University Nijmegen 
  • School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading
  • Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics, University of Reading
  • Institute of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon
  • Memory Assessment Service, Chichester, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sage House - Dementia Support

Recent publications

  • Belmar, M., Gladwin, T. E., Reis, L., Pinho, M. S., Silva, D., Nunes, M. V., Raskin, S., de Mendonça, A.  & Pereira, A. (2020). An Exploration of Prospective Memory Components and Subtasks of the Memory for Intentions Test (MIST). Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.
  • Tyndall, I., Waldeck, D., Pancani, L., Whelan, R., Roche, B., & Pereira, A. (2019). Profiles of Psychological Flexibility: A Latent Class Analysis of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Model. Behavior modification. doi: 10.1177/0145445518820036 [Epub ahead of print]
  • Pereira, A., Altgassen, M., Atchison, L., de Mendonca, A., & Ellis, J. (2018). Sustaining Prospective Memory Functioning in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: a Lifespan Approach to the Critical Role of Encoding. Neuropsychology, 32(5), 634-644. doi: 10.1037/neu0000441.
  • de Mendonca, A., Maroco, Felgueiras, H., Verdelho, A., Camara, S., Grilo, C., J., Pereira, A., & Guerreiro, M. (2018). Memory complaints in amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: more prospective or retrospective? International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 33(8), 1011-1018, doi: 10.1002/gps.4886
  • McLoughlin, S., Tyndall, I., & Pereira, A. (2018). Piloting a brief relational operant training program: Analyses of response latencies and intelligence test performance. European Journal of Behaviour Analysis, 19(2), 228-246, doi: 10.1080/15021149.2018.1507087
  • Raskin, S. A., Shum, D. H., Ellis, J., Pereira, A., & Mills, G. (2017). A comparison of laboratory, clinical, and self-report measures of prospective memory in healthy adults and individuals with brain injury. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 40(5), 423-436, doi: 10.1080/13803395.2017.1371280.
  • Pereira, A., Meirinhos, V., & Chmiel, N. (2017). Treading the path between intentions and actions: A Complex Hierarchical Model Of Prospective Memory. Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, 13(7), P632-P633, DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2017.06.721
  • Appleton, K., & Pereira, A. (2017). Behavioural changes in dementia and their impact on professional caregivers: A grounded theory approach. Dementia, doi: 1471301217714654. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Windless, R., & Pereira, A. (2017). Semantic Processing as a Significant Factor in Non-Focal Prospective Memory Cues. Cognition, Brain, Behaviour, 21(1), 1-12, DOI: 10.24193/cbb.2017.21.01
  • Pereira, A., de Mendonca, A., & Ellis, J. (2016). Prospective Memory in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: in pursuit of an Early Diagnosis. International Journal of Psychology, 51 (S1), 865. ISSN 0020-7594
  • Pereira, A., Meirinhos, V., & Chmiel, N. (2016). Untangling aging effects in Prospective Memory: A complex hierarchical model. International Journal of Psychology, 51 (S1), 178. ISSN 0020-7594
  •  Pereira, A., Mendonça, A., Silva, D., Guerreiro, M., Freeman, J. and Ellis, J. (2015). Enhancing Prospective Memory in Mild Cognitive Impairment: the Role of Enactment. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 37(8), 863-877. doi:10.1080/13803395.2015.1072499
  • Duarte, S., Roche, A., Armstrong, J., Ortez, C., Gerontina, E., Pérez, A., O'Callaghan, M., Pereira, A., Sanmarti, F., Molero, M., Artuch, R., Pineda, M. & García-Cazorla, A. (2013). Abnormal expression of cation chloride cotransporters in Rett syndrome patients. PLoS ONE 8(7): e68851. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068851.
  • Pereira, A., Ellis, J., & Freeman, J. (2012). Is prospective memory enhanced by semantic relatedness and cue-action enactment at encoding? Consciousness and Cognition, 21(3), 1257-1266. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.04.012.
  • Pereira, A., Ellis, J., & Freeman, J. (2012). The effects of age, enactment and cue-action relatedness on memory for Intentions in the Virtual Week task. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, 19(5), 549-565. doi:10.1080/13825585.2011.638977.
  • Pereira, A., Freeman, & J., Ellis, J. (2011). Acting is the Key: New directions for the stimulation of prospective memory in mild cognitive impairment. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 7, S543-S544. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2011.05.1534.