Krister Håkansson

Affiliated to research

I work as a research coordinator with Miia Kivipelto and my main projects are about robot-assisted diagnostics of early cognitive disorder and life-style interventions to prevent cognitive decline.

About me

Between 1975-1980 I worked at the Psychology Department at Lund University with teaching and as research assistant at the Neuropsychology laboratory at Lund University Hospital, primarily with rCBF (regional cerebral blood flow) measurements. Between 1978 and 2018 I worked as teacher in Psychology at the Linnaeus University (former Växjö University).

In 2010 I was formally registered as doctoral student (50%) at the Karolinska Institutet, with Miia Kivipelto as main supervisor, and defended my thesis, The role of socio-emotional factors for cognitive health in later life, on Oct 28, 2016.

At the Karolinska Institutet I continue to work 50% as a research coordinator in several projects with Miia Kivipelto as principal investigator. Since 2018, when I resigned from the Linnaeus University, I also work 50% in parallell at Theme Aging at the Karolinska University Hospital, also as research coordinator under the leadership of Miia Kivipelto. 

Research description

I am generally interested in the role of life style factors, especially emotional and social factors, in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and also in the biological mechanisms behind the associations we have found. 

The main focus of my thesis was the role of socio-emotional factors in midlife for cognitive health in later life and how this association is modified by genetic risk factors. The results of the first study showed that living alone after losing a partner relatively early in life was associated with a seven-fold risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and the risk was even higher for persons who also carried the ApoE 4 allele. Follow-up results indicate that feelings of hopelessness and loneliness also constitute risk factors independent of marital status.

At the Linnaeus University I initiated and coordinated a research project on healthy ageing in 2013 together with Abdul Mohammed at the Linnaeus University and Kirk Daffner at Harvard Medical School, a project that is still on-going. The project is entitled Successful Ageing after 65: Effects of environmental stimulation on cognitive health and neural plasticity. This is an intervention study to compare the effects from different activities on cognition and BDNF levels in approximately 160 healthy elderly persons living in south Sweden or in the Boston area in the US.

At Karolinska I am a member of the Nordic Brain Network (NBN, led by Miia Kivipelto. At present I am coordinating a part of the EACare project (Embodied Agent to support elderly mental well-being), a collaboration between KI and KTH. The aim of this part of the project is to develop robot-assisted diagnostics for patients with early cognitive disorders.

Other projects are related to the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study (FINGER). In one study we want to investigate if inter-individual differences in cognitive gains from the intervention can be related to brain neurotrophic factor (BDNF) availability. I also work with World-Wide FINGERS™, an initiative to support research groups in different countries to replicate the FINGER multimodal intervention with various adaptations. A third FINGER-related project is to broadly implement the FINGER model among elderly in the Stockholm region, called "Stockholm - International Capital for Cognitive Health among elderly".

Teaching portfolio

I have worked around 40 years as lecturer at the Linnaeus University (former Växjö University), primarily in Psychology, but also in interdisciplinary courses (Sports Psychology, Political Psychology, and Cross-cultural Psychology). During the last years at the Linnaeus University I mainly taught neuropsychology in the Psychologist´s program and also a master course in Cross-Cultural Organizational Psychology, on a part-time basis in parallell with my dissertation at KI.

International teaching projects include a joint summer course with Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico on Culture in International Relations, a distance education course in International Cooperation at UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), and a joint distance course in Cross-Cultural Psychology with Makerere University (Uganda) and University of Minnesota.

I was promoted to lecturer at the Linnaeus University in 2017.


1975    Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

2016    PhD in Medical Science, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Academic honours, awards and prizes

I received the pedagogical award in 2003 from Växjö University (now the Linnaeus University) for my work with internationalization in higher education.

I received the silver plaque for excellence in teaching in 2001 and 2004 from Universidad Iberoameicana, Mexico City.