Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease has a great impact on the quality of life of those suffering from it, as well as on their families and friends. In an ever growing population, Alzheimer's will be part of someone's life sooner or later. The discovery of early stage markers of dementia and knowledge about its progress throughout the whole brain is of high value in current research.

Successful aging includes independence, retaining of precious memories and the possession of a great social network. But what if you can't remember the most important events of your life? What if you're not able to recognize the people that mean the most to you? The content of your life is literally taken away from you through Alzheimer's disease.

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Can we condition Alzheimer patients?

I want to find out where the disease originates, why Alzheimer's remains unpredictable and if it is possible to condition or prime Alzheimer patients to make them retain their memories and independence, so that they can live an almost normal life again.

  • Early stage markers

  • Prime patients

  • Memory retainment

  • Quality of life

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I am Jana Thomas

Master of Science in Neuropsychology

I am 25 years old and obtained my Master's degree in Neuropsychology at Maastricht University (UM). I am interested in research about mechanisms and functions of the healthy and pathological brain. More insight into different processes of the brain not only contributes to a better understanding of human behavior but also leads to more efficient treatment approaches of certain brain diseases.

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I want to help Alzheimer patients

You can make that happen

Currently I am looking for a research position.

To research the following

The human memory system can roughly be subdivided into two parts. The first one is often referred to as the declarative- or explicit memory system, which is responsible for the storage of episodic and semantic information. The second memory system is called procedural- or implicit memory, it includes the ability to perform certain skills or habits and is active during priming and classical conditioning. You could interpret the second division as the unconscious part of our memory while the first one is the conscious system.

Different studies suggest that the first memory system is disrupted among Alzheimer patients and that the second one is mostly preserved in early stages of dementia.

This is where things get interesting. If the second memory system is preserved and efficiently functioning, would it be possible to use this unconscious memory system to counterbalance the disruptions of the conscious memory system? Can you actually prime and condition patients who suffer from Alzheimer's so that they would be able to regain certain memories? Are Alzheimer patients able to learn on an unconscious basis with the help of simple cue-behavior associations?

Imagine the consequences.

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Why me?

My experience with both clinical settings and scientific research makes me a capable researcher with a diverse toolset. Throughout the years, my curiosity for the biological mechanisms of the brain has turned my interest into an expertise on the aging brain. I have an excellent scientific background which, supplemented with a fluency in Dutch, English and German, enhances the communication with team members and potential patients.

I am very excited to start research on this topic, and hopefully greatly improve the quality of life of those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Educational background

Adelante

Clinical as well as research internship at Adelante Zorggroep under supervision of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Ponds.

During the clinical part of my internship, I collected the BAPD credits (Basisaantekening Psychodiagnostiek) and gained insights into the clinical activities of neuropsychologists, psychological test-assistants and cognitive trainers.

Besides that I also conducted my own research project with patients at Adelante which focused on dealing with daily challenges after brain injury.

Aarhus University

I spent my exchange semester in Aarhus during which I conducted my own research with a group of experts at the Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN) in Aarhus about the effect of oxytocin on interpersonal synchronization. The project was continued with a bigger sample and will likely be published this winter.

Whilst abroad I followed two additional courses which focused on personal development in old age and cognitive neuroscience.

Maastricht University

Bachelor of Science in psychology. I especially enjoyed the courses that had a biological background: 'learning and memory', 'neuroanatomy', ‘biological psychology', 'sensation and perception', 'psychopathology' and many more inspired me to choose the Master track of Neuropsychology.

Master of Science in Neuropsychology. The Master included 4 courses, namely 'brain damage', 'behavioral disorders', 'arousal and attention' and 'aging'. I enjoyed every single one of them because they focused on the brain and its contribution to healthy or pathological changes during life.

Let's discover the possibilities!
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