Global dementia is on the rise. Here’s what Baycrest is doing about it.


Preventing or delaying the onset of dementia in older adults is a major focus of research at Toronto-based Baycrest Health Sciences and its world-class cognitive science institute, the Rotman Research Institute.

Here are just a few of the initiatives underway here to address one of Canada’s and the world’s most pressing health challenges: rising rates of dementia in aging populations.

  • A free brain health checkup — Cogniciti Inc. (a company created by Baycrest and MaRS Discovery District) recently launched a free online brain health assessment for adults aged 50+ who are worried about their memory changes and want to know if they should see their doctor. The brain health test aims to reassure the worried well and nudge the small percentage (2-3%) who have serious memory issues and will score low on the test…to seek help. More than 50,000 people (mostly Canadians) have visited the site since its public launch in May and 50% have taken the 20-minute cognitive checkup.
  • Personalized brain repair — Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (Dr. Randy McIntosh) is leading an international team of scientists to build the world’s first, functional virtual brain. The computerized VB can take a stroke patient’s damaged brain, for example, model it and enable clinicians to test the effectiveness of different therapies for cognitive rehabilitation and identify which will work best for the patient.
  • Helping seniors prolong their safe driving skills – Baycrest’s Chief of Medicine, Dr. Gary Naglie, is leading a study to evaluate an intervention for seniors with mild cognitive impairment that aims to extend their ability to drive safely.  The study involves a driving simulator that will measure performance changes in driving before and after participants have taken cognitive training exercises. 
  • Prescribing ‘volunteering’ to protect brain health –  Baycrest Research About Volunteering Among Older Adults (BRAVO) is leading a study to assess the health benefits of volunteering in post-retirement. While other studies have shown older-adult volunteers enjoy better cognitive function and greater life satisfaction, the BRAVO study is the first to investigate what it is about volunteering that’s so beneficial and which volunteer roles predict greater benefits. This research is led by clinical neuropsychologist and Rotman scientist, Dr. Nicole Anderson.