Dr Irish presented her work at the International Neuropsychological Society Annual Meeting 2013, Hawaii, USA, 3- 10 February in 2013.
The theme for the 41st annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society was 'Brain Health Through the Lifespan' and featured many eminent keynote speakers relevant to her discipline, including Professor Sandra Weintraub, Professor Reisa Sperling, and Professor Marcel Mesulam.
Dr Irish's work was based on a paper which was accepted for publication in Human Brain Mapping on how episodic memory relates to dementia and Alzheimers disease. Authors: Irish, M., Piguet, O., Hodges, J.R., Hornberger, M. Common and unique grey matter correlates of episodic memory dysfunction in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Human Brain Mapping, in press.
Dr Irish’s research is focused on cognitive processes and how these are affected in dementia.
Dr Irish gave an oral presentation outlining her work on episodic memory in neurodegenerative disorders. While different dementia syndromes display significant problems in episodic memory, her research demonstrates common and divergent regions in the brain responsible for these problems. This work is important as, to date, controversy has surrounded the extent to which memory impairments are present in the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia. Dr Irish’s work demonstrates that these patients show profound memory problems, attributable to specific patterns of atrophy in the brain.
Dr Irish also presented a poster on her research on episodic future thinking. Briefly, her cognitive and neuroimaging data from neurodegenerative conditions converge to show that general knowledge of the world is essential for our ability to imagine possible events in the future. Patients with semantic dementia, who show a loss of world knowledge but relatively preserved recent memory of their past, displayed striking impairments in imagining future events. These deficits were associated with atrophy in the left temporal cortices, regions which underpin our general knowledge of the world.
Dr Irish received a lot of positive attention and good feedback. She was awarded an INS Young Investigator award for an outstanding presentation, and the Laird Cermak prize for outstanding research in memory.
Attending this meeting was particularly relevant for Dr Irish as she has been carving out her own area of research into episodic memory and future thinking in dementia. Presenting the research at this international level represented a very important step in advancing her research career and interacting with international experts in the field.
Building clear understanding of dementia and how the disease functions will go towards helping its prevention in the future.