At the Penn FTD Center, we also design studies of memory and language for healthy younger controls between 18-30 years of age. These experiments are typically computer-based tasks, and some may have an MRI component.  Compensation will be provided.

For questions about eligibility and participation in our behavioral studies for young controls, visit our Healthy Volunteer page.

If you are between the ages of 45 and 85 and without complaint of memory or thinking problems, you may qualify to participate as a control subject for the Penn FTD Center. We are always seeking healthy volunteers who meet our criteria to participate in studies of memory, language, and cognition as part of a healthy comparison group.

Participation as a control subject includes performing experimental computer and paper-and-pencil tests, and may include an MRI scan.

For more information on participating in research at the Penn FTD Center as a control subject, visit our Healthy Volunteer page.

Once you decide that you are interested in being a part of our cognitive/behavioral research at the Penn FTD Center, you will be contacted by one of our research specialists to schedule an initial testing session.  This session may take place at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania following a clinic visit or in the home of you/your loved one, depending on your needs and availability. The focus of the visit is on the administration of standard neuropsychological tests that assess memory and cognitive ability.

Our research specialists do their best to ensure that the cognitive testing takes place in a comfortable and friendly environment. Further cognitive testing sessions may be scheduled depending on eligibility, as well as the willingness of you and your loved one to continue your participation in our study.

Participation is voluntary. 

Dementia is any progressive cognitive decline from adult levels of cognitive performance.  This definition of dementia is not restricted to memory, but can also affect (alone or in combination) language, visuospatial functioning, executive functioning, and social functioning.  Dementia is associated with many conditions, and some of these are not neurological.  For example, declining cognition can be seen in the setting of persistent urinary tract infections, a side effect of different medications, inflammation of blood vessels that carry blood to the brain, or severe depression.  There are many neurological causes of dementia as well.  Among these are the gradual accumulation of mini-strokes and transient ischemic events ("TIAs"), hydrocephalus ("water on the brain"), meningitis, repeated blows to the head, and persistent on-going partial seizures.  Once these conditions are ruled out, there are many neurodegenerative conditions that can lead to dementia.  These include frontotemporal degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's-related dementia and other conditions involving involuntary movements, and some individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  

There is sometimes confusion about the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal degeneration. Alzheimer’s disease and Frontotemporal degeneration are two types of neurodegenerative disease that cause impairments in cognitive functioning. FTD typically presents as a change in behavior or personality or as a progressive aphasia (language difficulty). Alzheimer’s disease affects primarily memory. Age of onset is another key difference. FTD generally affects persons in the late 50’s or 60’s whereas; it is more common for AD to affect persons in later years of life.

MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images. No ionizing ("harmful") radiation is used. There are no known lasting effects on the body from MRI and therefore no safety concerns with multiple MRI scans. According to the FDA, "There are no known harmful side-effects associated with temporary exposure to the strong magnetic field used by MRI scanners.