Brenda L. Plassman, PhD


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Personal activities

The major focus of my research has been on the epidemiology of dementia and cognitive decline in late life in diverse population-based samples. I have worked on several epidemiological studies including the Duke Twins Study of Memory in Aging; the Veterans Study of Memory in Aging; the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS) which is a sub-study of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS); and the Cache County, UT Memory Study. The work on these projects and others has spanned a number of scientific issues including: a) refinement of clinical assessment and diagnostic methods for early detection of dementia and cognitive decline in community-based samples, b) assessing the progression of cognitive, functional, and neurobehavioral decline throughout the course of progressive cognitive decline, c) estimating the national prevalence and incidence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and d) investigating associations between potential risk or protective factors and dementia. I continue to do secondary analyses on the archived data from the epidemiological studies. My more recent research has also included studies investigating the association between declining cognition and declining oral health.

I am also working with the research team at the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (Bryan ADRC) to develop an Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Registry (ADPR) to have a “research–ready” registry of cognitively normal older adult community volunteers who are willing to participate in Alzheimer’s disease prevention studies. This work will lead to a range of approaches to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease including studies involving exercise to others involving medication.

Select references

Plassman, B.L., Langa, K.M., McCammon, R.J., Fisher, G. G. Potter, G.G. Burke, J.R., Steffens, D.C., Foster, N.L., Giordani, B., Unverzagt, F.W., Welsh-Bohmer, K.A., Heeringa, S.G., Weir, D.R., Wallace, R.B. (2011) Incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment not dementia in the United States. Ann Neurology. 70:418-426.

Daviglus, M.L., Plassman, B.L., Pirzada, A., Bell, C.C., Bowen, P.E., Burke, J.R., Connolly, E.S. Jr., Dunbar-Jacob, J.M. Granieri, E.C., McGarry, K., Patel, D., Trevisan, M., Williams, J.W. Jr., (2011). State of the Science: Risk factors and preventive interventions for Alzheimer Disease. Arch Neurology. 68: 1185-1190.

Plassman, B.L., Hybels, C.F., Potter, G.G., Pieper, C.F., Germain, C. Mid-life Physical Exercise and Late-life Dementia in Twins. Presented at the Alzheimer’s Assn International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, July 2011.
Wu, B., Plassman, B.L., Landerman, R. Cognitive function and oral hygiene behavior in later life. Presented at the Alzheimer’s Assn International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, July 2011.

Faculty profile