Alzheimer's Disease: Exercise Therapy and Brain Networks (2021-2022)

More than five million Americans are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to escalate, as the proportion of older Americans continues to rise. Age, apolipoprotein E (APOE-ε4) and female chromosomal sex are well-established risk factors.

Because Alzheimer’s disease has both genetic and environmental causes, considerable research has also focused on environmental factors including lifestyle, nutrition and exercise as potential therapeutic interventions that might delay or prevent neuropathology and cognitive decline.

Mouse models provide opportunities to study characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease in well-controlled environments that can help facilitate development of early interventions. In vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used in both humans and mice to identify vulnerable circuits that may predict cognitive decline.

This project team examined brain structure and function in transgenic mice that develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, evaluated whether menopause accelerates cognitive decline and neuropathogenesis and assessed whether chronic exercise can mitigate this risk.

Team members developed protocols and collected data to determine if functional MRI changes in the brain can be seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, by training mice to find one odor negative and aversive and a second odor positive and appetitive. Mice were anesthetized and presented with these odors plus a novel odor during MRI scanning. Once these procedures were verified and brain functional changes detected, the team examined various models and their controls and determined the effects of exercise therapy and/or menopause. 

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.


Summer 2021 – Summer 2022


Janai Williams

Team Outputs

Research poster

Methodology for analyzing imaging and data

Apparatus for delivering odors to mice during imaging

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

Female-Led Team Investigates Increased Alzheimer’s Risk in Women

See related teams, Alzheimer's Disease: Exercise Therapy and Brain Networks (2022-2023) and Exercise Therapy and Brain Networks: Implications for Alzheimer's Disease (2020-2021).


Team Leaders

  • Alexandra Badea, School of Medicine-Radiology
  • Christina L. Williams, Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Janai Williams, Arts and Sciences–Psychology and Neuroscience–Ph.D. Student

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Akhil Bedapudi, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Nikhil Gadiraju, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Melinda Guo, Interdepartmental Major
  • Jasmine King, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Pradnesh Kolluru, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Anna MacFarlane, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Isabella Pansini, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Divya Reddy, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Eileen Wen, Neuroscience (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Carol Colton, School of Medicine-Neurology
  • Jacques Stout, School of Medicine-Brain Imaging and Analysis Center
  • Ara Wilson, Arts & Sciences-Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies