I am interested in the relationship between diet and brain function, with specific interest in cognitive function and appetite regulation. One area of investigation focuses on healthy seniors and the impact of lifelong dietary patterns on risk of cognitive decline with aging. My current focus is on the role of type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent) as a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. These studies include an examination of the impact of meal, or food, consumption on cognitive function since many older adults with type 2 diabetes experience transient decreases in cognitive function following meal ingestion. My studies aim to understand the biologic means whereby food ingestion interferes with cognitive function in those with diabetes and to identify food strategies which minimize this decline. My other area of investigation focuses on institutionalized seniors with cognitive impairment, such as that observed with advanced Alzheimer Disease, and identifying nutrition strategies to reduce their risk of developing malnutrition. I am studying eating patterns in institutionalized seniors to understand how Alzheimer Disease influences eating behavior and whether eating behaviors change at different stages of disease progression. Through this understanding, I am testing nutrition interventions which accommodate disease induced alterations in eating behaviors and appetite regulation to determine whether they are effective approaches to increase food intake which can be implemented in the institutional setting.
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