Visual-somatosensory integration (VSI) as a novel marker of Alzheimer’s disease: A comprehensive overview of the VSI study

Jeannette R. Mahoney, Helena M. Blumen, Pierfilippo De Sanctis, Roman Fleysher, Carolina Frankini, Alexandria Hoang, Matthew J. Hoptman, Runqiu Jin, Michael Lipton, Valerie Nunez, Lital Twizer, Naomi Uy, Ana Valdivia, Tanya Verghese, Cuiling Wang, Erica F. Weiss, Jessica Zwerling, Joe Verghese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Identification of novel, non-invasive, non-cognitive based markers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias are a global priority. Growing evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s pathology manifests in sensory association areas well before appearing in neural regions involved in higher-order cognitive functions, such as memory. Previous investigations have not comprehensively examined the interplay of sensory, cognitive, and motor dysfunction with relation to AD progression. The ability to successfully integrate multisensory information across multiple sensory modalities is a vital aspect of everyday functioning and mobility. Our research suggests that multisensory integration, specifically visual-somatosensory integration (VSI), could be used as a novel marker for preclinical AD given previously reported associations with important motor (balance, gait, and falls) and cognitive (attention) outcomes in aging. While the adverse effect of dementia and cognitive impairment on the relationship between multisensory functioning and motor outcomes has been highlighted, the underlying functional and neuroanatomical networks are still unknown. In what follows we detail the protocol for our study, named The VSI Study, which is strategically designed to determine whether preclinical AD is associated with neural disruptions in subcortical and cortical areas that concurrently modulate multisensory, cognitive, and motor functions resulting in mobility decline. In this longitudinal observational study, a total of 208 community-dwelling older adults with and without preclinical AD will be recruited and monitored yearly. Our experimental design affords assessment of multisensory integration as a new behavioral marker for preclinical AD; identification of functional neural networks involved in the intersection of sensory, motor, and cognitive functioning; and determination of the impact of early AD on future mobility declines, including incident falls. Results of The VSI Study will guide future development of innovative multisensory-based interventions aimed at preventing disability and optimizing independence in pathological aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1125114
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • cognition
  • mobility
  • multisensory integration
  • sensory processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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