The Memory and Aging Project (MAP)

Who We Are

Since 1979, the Memory & Aging Project at Washington University has studied intellectual functioning in persons as they age. Our efforts are designed to provide information on the aging process in healthy older persons and in those diagnosed as having a dementia of the Alzheimer type or another related disorder. The Memory and Aging Project (MAP) is at the forefront of a worldwide effort to uncover key causal factors in the development of Alzheimer disease, with a goal of developing more effective treatments and an eventual cure or prevention.

Our Mission

Researchers at the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University are looking at the memory and thinking changes that occur in people as they age. A team of nurses, doctors, social workers, and other professionals assess cognitive function in older adult volunteers both with and without dementia. The team deeply appreciates the participation of hundreds of volunteers in our studies. The research could not be advanced without our volunteers, their families and care partners.

The mission of the Knight ADRC is to:

  • Deliver the best possible assessment of cognitive function in older adults.
  • Promote, design and implement clinical research studies on aging and dementia.
  • Educate health professionals, students, and the community with today’s best information and tomorrow’s advances about Alzheimer disease.
Why is research important?

The reality of Alzheimer disease (AD) is startling. Someone in the United States develops AD every 67 seconds, and 1 in 3 seniors dies with AD or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of memory and thinking impairment among persons age 65 and older.


Alzheimer disease is diagnosed based on gradual onset, slow progression of memory impairment, and general cognitive decline. At its earliest clinical stage, AD represents a decline from the person’s prior level of function and affects the person’s ability to carry out her everyday activities. Even with growing public awareness of the disease, it is estimated that almost half of all persons with symptoms go undiagnosed. Deaths from Alzheimer disease increased 71 percent from 2000 to 2013, while deaths from other major diseases, including heart disease, stroke, breast and prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS, decreased. Alzheimer's is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.


Researchers at MAP are working to improve early detection and diagnosis using clinical and biological measures developed and tested in our research studies. MAP researchers also are working to develop and evaluate therapies that one day may provide truly effective treatment for the disease.


*Statistics courtesy of Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures 


Yearly interviews about your memory and thinking in our office (2-3 hours)

Blood Sample

Blood sample to test DNA for genetic causes of AD

Cognitive Testing

Yearly testing of your memory and thinking in our office (2-3 hours; view fact sheet)

Brain Scans

Brain scans, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI fact sheet) and positron emission tomography (PET fact sheet), every 2-3 years

Lumbar Puncture

A lumbar puncture is performed every 2-3 years (view fact sheet).

Additional Testing

Additional testing, such as a sleep study, for selected volunteers (view fact sheet).

Who can volunteer?

Persons who are:

  • 65 years or older
  • In stable general health
  • Have no problems with memory or thinking OR have mild dementia
  • Have a study partner (such as a spouse, family member, or friend) who will be interviewed yearly about your memory and thinking
  • Willing and able to complete all study procedures
Points to Consider

Below are several points to consider when becoming a MAP volunteer.

  • Participation in each of the research activities is voluntary
  • Taking part in this study may or may not help you personally
  • Your participation is a chance to help others in the future by helping researchers find better ways to diagnose and treat Alzheimer disease
  • Taking part in this study does not take the place of medical care provided by your health care provider
  • Information collected about you is kept strictly confidential
How to Contact Us

A Memory and Aging Project (MAP) team member can provide you with information about the study and answer any questions you may have.

Fill out our online inquiry form HERE.


You can alsol call (314) 286-2683 for further information.



Study Fact Sheets

MAP Brochure

You can download a PDF copy of our brochure by clicking the image below.

Click on map to enable interaction