Dr. Mario A Parra
Dr. Parra graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1993 and as a Clinical Neurophysiologist in 1997. He worked at the Cuban Neuroscience Centre and at different University Hospitals in Cuba and in Colombia. During his clinical work, he focused on neuropsychological and neurophysiological aspects of dementia syndromes and other neurological disorders. He taught neuroscience related subjects in the field of medicine and psychology. His motivation for teaching and research led him to a major career change into academia. In 2005, he received a scholarship from the European Union to undertake the PhD at the University of Edinburgh. He completed the PhD in Human Cognitive Neuroscience in 2009 and continued with three consecutive Postdoctoral Fellowships. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh in 2015 where he worked until 2018. He is currently a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK. His current research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal aging. His research contributions, which are highlighted below, have been published in top journals such as Brain, Cortex, Neurology, Alzheimer’s & Dementia, just to mention a few, and have attracted over 2400 citations. He is a founder and leader of the UK – Latin America Brain Connectivity Network which advances research on EEG applications for dementia. He is coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia and founder of the Global Dementia Prevention Programme. Such contributions have been acknowledged by National and International organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Society UK and the International Neuropsychological Society, which have awarded him the Outstanding Contribution to Dementia Research Award and the Arthur Benton Mid-Career Award, respectively.
Contributions to Science:
- He has contributed evidence and tools to help separate the normal contribution of aging to cognitive decline from the decline seen in older adults developing dementia. Such evidence has supported the development of new assessment methods and has also enriched theories of aging and cognition.
- Developing cognitive tests for the preclinical detection of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). He has contributed a novel method, the short-term memory binding test, which has been suggested by consensus papers as a reliable and promising tool for the preclinical detection of AD.
- Cognitive biomarkers for AD. By combining the short-term memory binding test with EEG, fMRI and more recently with eye-tracking measures, he has contributed evidence towards reliable Cognitive Biomarkers for AD.
- The evidence above provided has led to a paradigm shift in understanding of preclinical assessment of AD. He has demonstrated that focusing on assessment of hippocampal related memory functions would unlikely allow preclinical detection of AD.
Tackling barriers in the assessment of people at risk of dementia across cultures and nations. Not only has this novel methodology overcome barriers in terms of early detection but it has done so reliably across populations with different cultural backgrounds. This has led to the proposal of the novel memory test as a transcultural maker for AD.