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New Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging

via Press release:

The Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging, a public-private effort NY62434LOGOto promote the study of brain function with age, will award up to $28 million over five years to 17 research grants to examine the neural and behavioral profiles of healthy cognitive aging and explore interventions that may prevent, reduce or reverse cognitive decline in older people.

The partnership, led by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the McKnight Brain Research Foundation (MBRF), is seeking ways to maintain cognitive health — the ability to think, learn and remember — into old age.

Hodes pointed out that emerging evidence suggests that certain interventions — such as exercise, environmental enrichment, diet, social engagement, cognitive training and stress reduction — should be studied more intensively to determine if they might prevent or reduce declines in cognitive health.

All the studies are fascinating, and a few of them may have significant impact in the near-term given market trends:

  • Ellen F. Binder, M.D., and Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis: Combining Exercise and Cognitive Training to Improve Everyday Function. A pilot trial in 90 older adults will evaluate whether cognition improves when aerobic exercise is combined with cognitive enrichment provided by a specific research-based video game. The randomized trial is aimed at finding an intervention to improve day-to-day cognitive function.
  • Mark D’Esposito, M.D., University of California, Berkeley: A Brain-Based Approach to Enhancing Executive Control Functions in Healthy Aging
  • Patricia A. Boyle, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center, Chicago: Characterizing the Behavior Profile of Healthy Cognitive Aging
  • Randy L. Buckner, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: Neural Processes Underlying Cognitive Aging
  • Joe Z. Tsien, Ph.D., Medical College of Georgia, Augusta: Hippocampal Network Profiles of Memory Aging.
  • Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., Columbia University, New York: Combined Exercise and Cognitive Training Intervention in Normal Aging

For more information

My two cents:

  • Why $28 million and not, say, $300m (one dollar per living American who tomorrow will be one day older than he or she is today)?
  • Why the main emphasis on “prevent, reduce or reverse decline” and not on “develop, build, maintain functionality”?

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2 Responses

  1. Another preliminary study for fuel to the fire.
    http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20100303/can-meditation-reverse-memory-loss
    Keep up the good work

    • Thanks for link, John. Note that, despite article’s title, that study didn’t show that meditation “reverses memory loss” (which would require tracking over time), but it did strongly suggest a really short meditation intervention can “enhance attention and memory functioning”. Another great tool in the toolkit.

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