Jerri Edwards

July 30, 2009

Dr. Jerri Edwards, assistant professor in the BCS School of Aging Studies, was awarded an R21 for $275,000 to study the training program among people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), who are at higher risk to develop cognitive difficulties.  The grant is being funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Dr. Edwards earlier received a University New Investigator Research Grant that allowed her to collect pilot data from a group of PD patients, and has now received NIA funding to carry out the full project. Drs. Robert Hauser and Theresa Zesiewicz are co-investigators involved in this study.

Parkinson’s disease affects about 1 million individuals in the United States. Although the disease was originally thought to primarily impact motor functioning, data now well document that cognitive abilities are affected as well. Individuals with PD are up to six times more likely than other older adults to develop dementia, which affects about 40% of those with the disease.

“Our research has indicated that enhancing cognitive speed of processing among relatively healthy older adults without dementia is possible and positively impacts their everyday functioning and health-related quality of life,” said Dr. Edwards.

The proposed research will explore the feasibility and potential efficacy of a well-established cognitive training technique, speed of processing training, to enhance cognition among persons with PD who do not have dementia.