The PROTECT Study

The PROTECT Study is an exciting opportunity to take part in a major UK research study. It aims to understand how healthy brains age and why people develop dementia. The PROTECT study is run by the University of Exeter and Kings College London, in partnership with the NHS.

“We know dementia risk can be reduced by one-third through improving lifestyle factors from midlife. This study will provide valuable information about how the brain changes with age, which combination of factors such as exercise and diet really work, and how we can best encourage people to adopt these changes.”

Professor Clive Ballard, Executive Dean and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter Medical School

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50,000

Our target for how many people will take part

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< 20 hours/year

The time it takes to contribute to dementia research

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50+

How old you must be to participate in the study

Who can participate?

You can join the study if you:

Are aged 50 years or older
Reside in UK
Do not have a diagnosis of dementia

What is involved?

Once a year, you will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires about yourself, your lifestyle and your health. Each takes an hour or less to complete. You will also be asked to take a series of online tests, to measure changes in brain function.

Examples of Questionnaires, Cognitive Function Tests and Brain Training Games:

Cognitive Function Tasks

Assess core aspects of brain function relevant to everyday activities including attention, memory, reasoning and processing

Brain Training Games

Set of games designed to keep your brain active

Everyday Activities

Please rate yourself on how well you manage your ordinary housework.

Lifestyle

How often do you drink caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, energy drinks)?

Medical History

Do you regularly experience pain that interferes with your day-to-day life?

Mental Health

People differ a lot in how much they worry about things. Did you ever have a time when you worried a lot more than most would in your situation?

Timeline

Questionnaires
Cognitive Tasks
Repeat annually over 25 years

Brain training games can be played regularly throughout the year

Find out More

What is dementia?

Dementia is a devastating condition that affects the brain. It includes a wide set of symptoms including memory loss, mood changes and problems with communication. It is progressive and there is currently no cure. Research is ongoing to seek better treatments and ways of preventing dementia.
  • There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.
  • There will be over a million people by 2025 and over 2 million by 2051.
  • 225,000 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.
  • Dementia currently costs the UK over £26 billion each year.
  • The best ways to reduce the risk of dementia are to maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, manage any cardiovascular conditions and take regular exercise.
All figures courtesy of Alzheimer's Society

What is cognitive testing?

The human brain is incredibly complex, performing countless tasks at any one time, allowing us to go about our daily lives. The word “cognitive” is used to describe the brain’s health as it functions. Our mental processes change as we age, and the PROTECT Study is trying to understand and track this process.

The PROTECT Study uses a set of cognitive assessments to record core brain functions including attention, memory, reasoning and processing. Participants are asked to complete tests once a year.

Key Cognitive Processes Assessed by the PROTECT Study

Brain Function What is it? Example of how we test it
Short-term/Working Memory Information is encoded, stored & retrieved You remember where shapes are on a grid or a sequence of numbers
Perception Sensory information like smells, sounds and tastes are recognised and interpreted You recognise a round shape in a grid, interpret it as a football and then perceive it again later
Attention Concentrating on particular information whilst ignoring other non-related information You demonstrate awareness of a type of object shown in a box and where the box is on a grid but ignore the object’s colour
Problem Solving Recognising a problem and finding the correct answer You work out a rule and apply it to remember where an object appears on a grid
Language Skill to translate sounds into words to communicate with other people You distinguish between words and their location in a sentence to determine the meaning of the sentence

Organisations that provide support with dementia

Our data promise

Your data will be confidential

All personal data will be physically separate from other data collection.


Your data will be securely encrypted

Only a very small number of individuals will have access to the decryption software


Your data will be kept private

Your data will only be used for the purposes of the PROTECT study. See our privacy policy for further information."

The people behind the project

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Professor Clive Ballard

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, University of Exeter Medical School

"PROTECT will drive forward research into dementia prevention and healthy ageing in the UK and across the globe."

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Dr Anne Corbett

Senior Lecturer in Dementia Research, University of Exeter Medical School

"The internet presents a powerful opportunity for large scale global research that would not have previously been possible. PROTECT will rapidly progress research towards a better understanding of healthy aging and how dementia might be prevented in the future."

Quote from a study participant:

“I'm pleased to say that I found the PROTECT Study very interesting, helpful to understand how memory degrades and affects normal daily life. I was particularly pleased to be able to contribute to this important research which affects millions of people as they age.”

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