University of South Australia
Research Field: Neuroscience and Dementia
Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australians; a new case is diagnosed every 6 minutes in Australia, and there is currently no cure. Remarkably, evidence is growing that suggests that if we stay physically active into old age we may be able to slow or prevent the onset of dementia. Dr Smith’s research involves using cutting edge technology to measure physical activity and fitness, cognitive performance and brain blood flow to discover the underlying mechanisms of how exercise and physical activity modifies the brains of older adults at risk of dementia. She hopes to determine the association between physical activity, aerobic fitness, brain health and cognitive performance. This research will help identify the optimal amount and types of physical activity to prevent or reduce dementia symptoms.
Ashleigh is an active member of the Australian Association of Gerontology. She is passionate about increasing community awareness of dementia, and is currently also advising Unley City Council on their “Age-Friendly strategy” in relation to dementia-friendly initiatives.
Dr Smith was awarded her PhD in 2011 from the University of Adelaide, and is currently an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow at the University of South Australia.