Memory and motivation in human health and disease


  • Prof Masud Husain

    University of Oxford

Project summary

Common disabling brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or stroke, often lead to changes in thinking or behaviour. We don’t understand many of these well and current treatments are not very effective. 

My aim is to examine two common problems that patients with brain disease can experience: deficits in short-term memory and in their motivation to do things. By using carefully designed tests, we can assess specific aspects  of short-term memory or of motivation. Then by scanning patients in different ways using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) we can see if a particular component of short-term memory or motivation is associated with changes in structure or function in a particular brain network. By doing this for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke we can determine whether there are common changes in brain networks associated with specific components across diseases. 

This will provide a potential target for treatments. We’ll also examine whether our tests can pick up early signs in people who are at high risk of developing a brain disease. We will then test drugs that affect two brain chemicals to see whether they can improve components of short-term memory and motivation.