Research at Cole Neuroscience Center

Leading the way in new discoveriesEast Tennessee's premier Memory Disorders Center.

PET-CT scan of the brain of a patient with Alzheimer's disease illustrating amyloid deposition.Amyloid PET/CT Imaging

Cole Neuroscience is in partnership with Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company in a phase II FDA clinical trial to evaluate the safety and imaging characteristics of Florbetapir F 18.  Florbetapir F18, FDA trade-name Amyvid, is a radioactive compound which binds to the Amyloid-Beta protein which has been found to accumulate in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. A PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography) scan detects the low level gamma rays emitted by Florbetapir F 18 and allows physicians to evaluate the presence or lack of Amyloid protein within the brain. The amyloid-beta protein forms deposits in the brain which may be responsible for the cognitive impairment and morbidity of Alzheimer’s disease. Cole Neuroscience is investigating the cognitive performance in relation to the presence or absence of brain amyloid through Florbetapir F18.


Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics

Cole Neuroscience is proud to be a referral partner to The Center for Human Genetics Research (CHGR) of VanderbiltUniversityMedicalCenter in Nashville, Tennessee. The CHGR investigators have been leaders in Alzheimer’s disease genetic research for many years and the goal of their work is to discover the genetic factors that contribute to or cause Alzheimer disease in individuals 60 years of age or older. 

Driving with Alzheimer’s Disease

Cole Neuroscience in partnership with the University of Tennessee Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering is studying the driving performance of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Cole Neuroscience understands the importance of driving to elderly individuals in affirming their personal self-care and autonomy. Therefore, it is the goal of our collaborative research to determine which memory test best indicates driving ability in order to better empower the physician’s clinical decision when caring for Alzheimer’ disease patients and families. Each individual’s cognitive and driving ability is evaluated through the combined use of standardized cognitive testing and a high-fidelity driving simulator (DriveSafety DS-660c). Our research will enable us to better understand the correlation between memory tests and driving abilities so that autonomy can be maintained as long as safely possible.

Detecting Frontotemporal Dementia with the Cognitive Self Test (CST)

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is the third most common primary dementia and is estimated to represent 10%-20% of all dementia cases [1].  FTD refers to a group of dementing disorders with changes in language ability, personality and executive functioning but with relative preservation of episodic memory. Overlap in clinical presentation can make FTD difficult to distinguish from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and 30-50% of FTD patients are initially either misdiagnosed with a primary psychiatric disorder or undiagnosed in the primary care setting [2-4].  To better diagnose FTD, physicians need a cognitive testing tool to assist their clinical patient evaluations. The physicians of Cole Neuroscience Center are studying the Cognitive Self Test (CST) as a potential tool to help primary care physicians differentiate Frontotemporal Dementia from other cognitive disorders. The Cognitive Self Test (CST) is an interactive, internet accessible cognitive screening test for dementia.

For additional information on other research programs, visit the Graduate School of Medicine or NeuroNET.


  1. Neary D., et al. (2005). “Frontotemporal dementia.”Lancet Neurol. 4 (11):771-780.
  2. Bozeat, S., et al. (2000). “Which neuropsychiatric and behavioral features distinguish frontal and temporal variant of frontotemporal dementia from Alzheimer’s disease?” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 69 (2): 178-186.
  3. Mendez, M.F., et al. (2002). “Neuropsychiatric features of frontotemporal dementia: evaluation of consensus criteria and review.” J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 14 (4):424-429.
  4. Mendez, M. F., et al. (2007). “Accuracy of the Clinical Evaluation for Frontotemporal Dementia.” Arch Neurol. 64(6):830-835.
  5. Dougherty, J.H., Jr., et al. (2010). “The Computerized Self Test (CST): An Interactive, Internet Accessible Cognitive Screening Test for Dementia.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 20(1): 185-195.
  6. Fox Trial Finder