MacDonald, Stuart

Associate Professor

Contact

Phone number: (250) 472-5297
Email: smacd@uvic.ca
Department: Aging, Centre on

Research description:

- Individual differences in cognitive aging
- Cognitive neuroscience of aging
- Patterns and predictors of cognitive decline
- Early identification of risk factors (genetic, biological, psychological)
- Longitudinal studies

Expertise Profile
Chronological age is just a number.

Dr. Stuart MacDonald, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria, argues that our age can only tell us so much.

Dr. MacDonald's research focuses on cognitive aging and early identification of those at risk for cognitive decline and disease, such as Alzheimer's.

He examines patterns and predictors of cognitive decline in the elderly, paying particular attention to variability, or inconsistency, in responses over time. Recently he expanded this research to include variability in brain activity, measured with a Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) machine in his lab.

Dr. MacDonald leads the PREVENT study at UVic. The goal of the project is to search for markers, both biological and behavioural, that may be present before the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease begin to show.

He and his team are now able to detect the first signs of decline up to eight to ten years in advance of diagnosis. With improved methods he hopes to push back early detection even more. If his lab is successful, then they can actually facilitate targeted intervention strategies very early on in the disease trajectory.

Early detection means there is hope of pushing back the onset of the disease. Things like exercise, social interaction and regular cognitive activity, what Dr. MacDonald calls "lifestyle cross-training," could delay onset by few years or more.

That delay will not only help the individual, he says, but also have a massive impact on health-care expenditures and on society.

Dr. MacDonald brings his enthusiasm for research into the classroom and has seen many of his students actually publish research papers that were originally written for his classes.


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