Dr. Kress’ research interests focus on understanding interactions between cognitive function and the circadian system during the aging process and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression in order to identify pathophysiology changes, mechanisms, and possible strategies to ameliorate disease progression. A growing body of evidence suggests that disruptions to the circadian system occur prior to the clinical onset of memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, circadian function may be a modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Building upon these findings, her current projects test the novel hypothesis that the decay in circadian rhythmicity as observed in aging and to a greater extent in AD, causes pathological disturbances in brain regions associated with memory processing which contribute to cognitive decline.
Subsequently, rejuvenation of robust circadian rhythms could be a potential way of ameliorating cognitive decline and improving memory. This line of research may uncover new insights into the complex biology associated with aging and AD. Because sleep-wake and circadian disruption are major causes of morbidity and institutionalization among AD patients, it is the hope that these studies may lead to effective interventions to promote healthy aging and forestall disease progression, which would benefit the individual as well as lessen caregiver burden and decrease financial care costs associated with progressing dementia.