Assoc. Prof. Helen Juan Zhou, Ph.D. | Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore; Prof. Woon Puay Koh, MBBS, Ph.D | Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore
Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore
Awardee year: 2023
Sarcopenia and cognitive impairment are two of the most prevalent causes of disability in the aging population of Singapore and around the world. Sarcopenia is a condition of physical frailty marked by loss of muscle mass, strength, and function. Importantly, sarcopenia is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and often co-occurs with neurologic diseases including cerebrovascular disease and dementia. It has been suggested that convergent age-related changes in brain structure and function may underlie this relationship between physical frailty and cognitive function in older adults. However, such possible overlapping neural mechanisms remain poorly elucidated, especially in community-dwelling older adults and Asian populations. Therefore, here we aim to examine brain structural and functional underpinnings of sarcopenia and cognition in 250 Singaporean community-dwelling older adults from the SG70 cohort, nested in the prospective Singapore Chinese Health Study cohort. We hypothesize that the key measures of sarcopenia would be related to specific brain microstructure and functional network measures, which would in turn link to domain-specific cognition and midlife lifestyle factors. This study is the first step to understand the shared neural mechanisms underlying physical-cognition relationship in ageing. Outcomes of this study would allow future longitudinal characterization of brain-physical-cognition trajectories and facilitate the development of new interventions to mitigate age-related cognitive and physical decline.