Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Pamela Almeida Meza

Pamela Almeida photo

My PhD Title: 'Cognitive reserve and dementia incidence'

Supervisors: Dr Dorina Cadar (Primary), Prof Andrew Steptoe, Prof Marcus Richards and Prof Jonathan Schott

Lay summary:

Cognitive reserve theory has been proposed to account for the inconsistencies between measured brain pathology and its clinical manifestation. Cognitive reserve proposes that the knowledge and experiences individuals accumulate over their lifespan provide protective mechanisms against cognitive decline. However, it is not yet clear what activities contribute to an increased cognitive reserve. The overall aim of my PhD project is to investigate various life-course markers of cognitive reserve through a cross-cohort analysis in the UK.

My Background

In 2015, during my first position as a research assistant, I was assigned to collect data at a day centre for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. During this placement, I had the chance to learn more about dementia and to understand how it impacts the lives of the people who live with the disease as well as their families. This experience motivated me to understand the life-course determinants of dementia and investigate its modifiable risk factors.  

After obtaining a degree in Clinical Psychology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Quito-Ecuador), I studied an MSc in Health Psychology at UCL. My master’s dissertation explored cognitive reserve and dementia incidence in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The results from my MSc dissertation led to my PhD project, which aims to extend the methodology into cross-cohort investigation of cognitive reserve and dementia in the UK.


PhD Candidate – University College London (2019-2022)

        Title: Cognitive reserve and dementia incidence

MSc Health Psychology – University College London (2017-2018)

        Dissertation: ‘Cognitive Reserve and Dementia Incidence in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing’

      Clinical Psychology – Universidad San Francisco de Quito (2011-2016).

        Dissertation: ‘Inclusion of the Prolonged Exposure Therapy protocol in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy for the treatment of experiential avoidance in Borderline Personality Behaviour’


Almeida-Meza, P., Steptoe, A., & Cadar, D. (2020). Markers of cognitive reserve and dementia incidence in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1-9

Pluck, G., Villagomez-Pacheco, D., Karolys, M. I., Montaño-Córdova, M. E., & Almeida-Meza, P. (2019). Response suppression, strategy application, and working memory in the prediction of academic performance and classroom misbehavior: A neuropsychological approach. Trends in neuroscience and education, 17, 100121

Villagómez, D., Pluck, G., & Almeida, P. (2018). Relationship between working memory, inhibition of response, and verbal ability with academic success and behaviour in adolescents. Maskana, 9, 87-100

Pluck, G., Almeida-Meza., P., Gonzales-Lorza, A., Muñoz-Ycaza R., & Trueba, A. (2017). Estimation of premorbid cognitive function with the Word Accentuation Test. Revista Ecuatoriana de Neurología, 26(3), 226-232


Mental Health Clinic SIME-USFQ – Clinical Psychologist (2016-2017)

Universidad San Francisco de Quito – Teaching Assistant General Psychology and Cognitive Psychology (2016)

General Psychology and Cognitive Psychology undergraduate class assistant

Quito Brain and Behaviour Laboratory – Research Assistant (2015-2017)

Contact details

Email: p.meza.17@ucl.ac.uk

Twitter: @PameAlmeida2