Dementia Research Centre


Past achievements

Major scientific achievements

Since its foundation in 2005, our group has taken a leading role in uncovering and characterising new dementia phenotypes (symptom and neuroanatomical profiles), physiological mechanisms and disease markers. Among these, we have identified and defined:

  • disorders of complex nonverbal sound perception and understanding in people with frontotemporal dementias (doi.org/10.1093/brain/awp235) and Alzheimer’s disease (doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.06.004)
  • new speech and language phenotypes, such as progranulin-associated aphasia (doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.09.017) and new perspectives on canonical aphasic syndromes, in particular the role of disordered speech and sound perception in these disorders (doi:10.1002/acn3.51101)
  • impairments of auditory scene (doi:10.1093/brain/awr260) and spatial (doi:10.1093/brain/awu337) processing in Alzheimer’s disease and posterior cortical atrophy
  • pathophysiological mechanisms of impaired self-boundaries (doi:10.1136/jnnp-2013-306995) and disordered embodied cognition (doi:10.1038/s41598-018-19528-2) in major dementias
  • changes in music perception (doi:10.3233/JAD-160359), humour (doi:10.3233/JAD-150413) and emotional reactivity to sound (doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2015.03.021), bodily signals (doi:10.1093/brain/awv276) and abstract art (doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.12.031) in people with frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease 
  • chemosensory (olfactory and gustatory) phenotypes and abnormal feeding behaviour syndromes in frontotemporal dementia (doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.12.006, doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2009.07.002, doi:10.1136/jnnp-2012-303853) and Alzheimer’s disease (doi:10.1136/jnnp-2012-304497)
  • the functional neuroanatomy of complex cognition and behaviours, such as environmental sound (doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.045), speech (doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.04.026) and emotion processing (doi:10.1093/brain/awz204) and musical memory (doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2019.02.003) in dementia
  • the structural and functional brain network anatomy underpinning specific proteinopathies, including the first detailed analyses of frontotemporal dementia caused by C9orf72 gene mutations (doi:10.1093/brain/awr361) and mapping of brain network signatures of tissue pathology (doi:10.1093/brain/awr198) in the frontotemporal dementias
  • retained auditory brain plasticity (adaptation to noisy speech) and its enhancement by acetylcholinesterase medication (doi:10.1002/acn3.471) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and progressive aphasia (doi:10.1186/s13195-018-0399-2), signalling a fresh emphasis on capacity rather than deficit in these diseases
  • new models of dementia physiology based on our studies, including the ‘molecular nexopathy’ hypothesis describing how pathogenic proteins link to specific brain network effects (doi:10.1016/j.tins.2013.06.007), the processing of sounds as auditory objects (doi:10.1097/WCO.0b013e32834027f6), music as a model for understanding social signals (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.02.013), and the ‘hypnic [sleep] hypothesis’ of neurodegenerative proteinopathies (doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2016.12.006)

Selected publications

  • Hardy CJD, Yong KXX, Goll JC, Crutch SJ, Warren JD. (2020) Impairments of auditory scene analysis in posterior cortical atrophy. Brain, in press  https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awaa221
  • Marshall CR, Hardy CJD, Russell LL, Bond RL, Sivasathiaseelan H, Greaves C, Dick KM, Agustus JL, van Leeuwen J, Wastling SJ, Rohrer JD, Kilner JM, Warren JD. (2019) The functional neuroanatomy of emotion processing in frontotemporal dementias. Brain 142(9):2873-2887. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz204.
  • Hardy CJD, Frost C, Sivasathiaseelan H, Johnson JCS, Agustus JL, Bond RL, Benhamou E, Russell LL, Marshall CR, Rohrer JD, Bamiou DE, Warren JD. (2019) Findings of impaired hearing in nonfluent/agrammatic variant primary progressive aphasia. JAMA Neurology, 76(5):607-611. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.4799.
  • Slattery CF, Agustus JL, Paterson RW, McCallion O, Foulkes AJM, Macpherson K, Carton AM, Harding E, Golden HL, Jaisin K, Mummery CJ, Schott JM, Warren JD. (2019) The functional neuroanatomy of musical memory in Alzheimer’s disease. Cortex 115: 357-370.
  • Marshall CR, Hardy CJD, Volkmer A, Russell LL, Bond RL, Fletcher PD, Clark CN, Mummery CJ, Schott JM, Rossor MN, Fox NC, Crutch SJ, Rohrer JD, Warren JD. Primary progressive aphasia: a clinical approach. J Neurol. 2018 Jun;265(6):1474-1490. doi: 10.1007/s00415-018-8762-6.

Patient and public involvement (PPI) and education

Our group been committed since its inception to building awareness of dementia and its human implications and the importance of dementia research, among the wider public as well as clinicians and scientists. Key activities include:

  • Regular media appearances showcasing our work – recently including BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3, BBC Breakfast, The Guardian, The Times, The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal
  • Regular publications of clinical guidelines and reviews about dementia diagnosis and practice
  • Leadership of the national Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) Support Group, directed by Chris Hardy - under the broader aegis of Rare Dementia Support we have organised a number of events and activities including Hearts and Minds, a cello and piano recital concert building on our group’s extracurricular musicianship, in 2019
  • Leadership of the Dementia MSc (Neuroscience) programme at UCL - this course, directed by Jason Warren, is one of the most popular specialist MSc courses at the UCL Institute of Neurology and is training a new generation of dementia clinicians and basic scientists from around the globe