Jagust, William

Eberling, Jamie

Kuczynski, Beth

Huesman, Michelle
Gitcho, Amy


The research focus in my laboratory is the study of brain structure and function in aging. We primarily use tools for imaging the brain, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and functional MRI (fMRI) to study how changes in brain structure, function, and neurochemistry are reflected in cognitive changes. As the brain ages, it is well recognized that a host of cognitive disturbances may occur. These range from very severe disturbances such as Using advanced structural, functional, and molecular imaging techniques it is possible to quantify the changes in volumes of specific brain structures, as well as quantify neurochemical and biochemical changes in the brain.

My laboratory measures these structural and chemical changes in order to understand which brain structures change in normal aging, how normal aging and dementia may differ, how underlying chemical changes are translated into behavior, and how we may be able to predict and ultimately modify cognitive decline. In addition to imaging technologies, we utilize techniques from neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and epidemiology to investigate cognitive processes in aging and cognitive changes in large samples of subjects. Current projects are designed to examine how the volumes of specific brain regions decline with age and disease, how white matter abnormalities are related to cognitive decline, and how glucose metabolism and dopaminergic function change with age and cognitive decline.

The above scan is a PET scan of a normal human using the tracer [18F] fluorometatyrosine to image brain dopamine metabolism. The graph shows dynamic brain uptake curves for the striatum (a region with high dopamine synthesis) and cerebellum (a region of low dopamine synthesis). Application of tracer kinetic models can quantify brain uptake of the tracer and dopamine synthesis.

The Jagust Laboratory is a joint program involving the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the UC Berkeley Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Brief descriptions of research projects are provided below. For more information, visit the UCB Jagust lab website at

Specific ongoing projects in the laboratory include:
The Aging Brain - Imaging the interaction between stroke and Alzheimer's disease: This project is using PET studies of glucose metabolism in conjunction with MRI scans and longitudinal clinical evaluation to understand how cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease interact in the brain.

The Sacramento Area Longitudinal Study on Aging (SALSA): This is an epidemiologic cohort study in which a subgroup of individuals is studied with MRI and PET scanning in order to define the structural and functional brain changes that accompany and predict cognitive decline and dementia.

Computer-based therapy for mild cognitive impairment: This is a study that uses PET scanning to investigate whether an intensive computer based series of brain exercise can improve cognitive function and glucose metabolism in older people with mild cognitive impairment.

High throughput tools for imaging brain aging: This project will develop methods for imaging various aspects of brain function using technologies that permit rapid acquisition of PET data with low radioactive doses in a noninvasive manner. We are currently focused on implementing methods for imaging presynaptic components of the brain dopamine system.

Imaging Gene Therapy in Parkinson's Disease: This project uses tracers to study the effects of gene therapy on humans and animal models of Parkinson's disease.

William Jagust, M.D.
Faculty Senior Scientist/
Program Leader/
Life Sciences Division

Professor of Public Health and Neuroscience/
UC Berkeley

One Cyclotron Rd.
Mailstop: 55R0121
Berkeley, CA 94720
tel: (510)486-5065
fax: (510)486-4768



Selected Publications

Reed BR, Eberling JL, Mungas D, Weiner MW, Jagust WJ. Memory failure has different mechanisms in subcortical stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Annals of Neurology, 48:275-284, 2000.

Jagust W, Thisted R, Devous MD, VanHeertum R, Mayberg H, Jobst K, Smith D, Borys N. SPECT perfusion imaging in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease: A clinical-pathological study. Neurology, 56:950-956, 2001.

Jagust WJ, Eberling JL, Wu CC, Finkbeiner A, Mungas D, Valk P, Haan MN. Brain function and cognition in a community sample of elderly Latinos. Neurology, 59: 378-383, 2002.

Wu CC, Mungas D, Petkov CI, Eberling JL, Zrelak PA, Buonocore MH, Brunberg JA, Haan MN, Jagust WJ. Brain structure and cognition in a community sample of elderly Latinos. Neurology, 59: 383-391, 2002.

Eberling JL, Wu CC, Haan, MN, Mungas DM, Buonocore MH, Jagust WJ. Preliminary evidence that estrogen protects against age-related hippocampal atrophy. Neurobiology of Aging, 24:725-732, 2003.

Haan MN, Mungas DM, Gonzales HM, Ortiz TA, Acharya A, Jagust WJ. Prevalence of dementia in older Latinos: the influence of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and genetic factors. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 51:169-177, 2003.

Eberling JL, Wu C, Tong-Turnbeaugh R, Jagust WJ. Estrogen and Tomoxifen Associated effects on brain structure and function. Neuroimage, 21:364-371, 2004.