Eric Griffith

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Massachusetts, Amherst, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9279

Approve Date

April 18, 2016

Project Title

Griffith, Eric Erastus, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA - To aid research on 'A Cross-cultural Comparison of the Behavioral Variation of Alzheimer's Disease Patients,' supervised by Dr. Lynette Leidy Sievert

Preliminary abstract: The goal of this project is to contribute to the anthropological understanding of neurodegenerative disease by collecting and integrating ethnographic data, neuropsychological data, and behavioral data to elucidate the extent to which Alzheimer’s disease (AD) symptoms can vary from culture to culture. To accomplish this goal, two research questions will be considered: 1) Do behaviors of AD diagnosed individuals differ significantly between the US and Mexico?, and 2) Do the cultural interpretations of the behaviors of AD-diagnosed individuals meaningfully correlate with symptom severity? If the behaviors of those diagnosed with AD do differ significantly cross-culturally, these data can be used to identify which symptoms are not universal. It is hoped that this research will contribute to challenging or confirming ideas that neurodegenerative symptoms are entirely neurological in basis and may call into question the biological fatalism associated with AD and other similar disorders. If the behaviors do not differ significantly it suggests that socio-environmental factors have little or no effect on AD. Additionally, the possible extent to which variations in cultural attitudes about aging can lead to variations in AD symptomatology has not been rigorously defined. By examining variation in AD-associated behaviors in light of cultural conceptions of AD, this project aims to investigate whether cultural interventions could mediate AD symptoms in some individuals.