Grace Hall-McMaster

BA (Hons)

PhD Student

New Zealand Brain Research Institute, Christchurch

PhD Student

Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch

Thesis Working Title: Biomarkers for Cognitive Decline in Parkinson's Disease


Parkinson's Disease (PD) is frequently associated with cognitive decline and subsequent dementia. However, current biomarker theories do not adequately predict future cognitive health for these patients. Cognitive functioning is a reflection of functional connectivity between networks, and evidence suggests that deterioration of posterior cortical functioning can lead to cognitive network failures resulting in PDD. The primary aim of my thesis is to establish a novel combination of 3T MRI biomarkers (cortical thickness at cortical nodes in EEG-derived cortical networks) and EEG biomarkers (effective connectivity based on individual cortical sources) to predict cognitive outcomes over a three year period in PD patients. Importantly, the thesis will look at directional connectivity in functional networks as opposed to non-directional functional connectivity, which may provide insight into the mechanisms driving disease progression.