Carolyn Fredericks, MD, is a neurologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating patients with cognitive and behavioral concerns, including Alzheimer’s disease, memory disorders, and frontotemporal disease. She also sees patients with rarer brain disorders, such as posterior cortical atrophy, logopenic progressive aphasia, corticobasal syndrome, and progressive supranuclear palsy.
At initial evaluation visits, Dr. Fredericks encourages patients to bring a loved one, friend, or caregiver who knows them very well. “Often, as you can imagine, the patient may not see the entire picture of what has been going on,” she says. During the first visit, Dr. Fredericks asks detailed questions around medical history and does cognitive testing to test memory, language, attention, and spatial functions. She also conducts a neurological exam that checks a range of abilities, including a patient’s motor system, reflexes, and coordination.
“I get a deep satisfaction from walking through the treatment process with a family, offering resources and medications that can help the patient feel better, even though it won’t make the illness go away,” Dr. Fredericks says. “Of course, I love it when I’m able to reverse a process for someone. Sometimes, we will learn that a patient’s thyroid is not working well or that they have an autoimmune condition we can treat. Those kinds of catches are amazing to be a part of.”
Dr. Fredericks dedicates time outside of treating patients to research focused on understanding what the brain looks like before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin to appear by comparing them with the brains of people who are aging in a healthy way. She also investigates more rare forms of Alzheimer’s disease that affect primarily affect a person’s ability to use language and spatial perception. As a member of Yale’s Clinical Neuroscience Imaging Center, she uses advanced imaging tools to map out how proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease spread throughout functional networks in the brain.
“Dementia is never a normal part of aging,” Dr. Fredericks says. “This research will help us develop better treatment targets and earlier interventions for the future.”