Neuroscientists Share Latest Findings on Aging, Cognition


computer generated image of a brain
More than 200 scientists converged in Dallas for two days in January to share the latest findings in the cognitive neuroscience of aging.
Hosted by UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity (CVL), the biennial Dallas Aging & Cognition Conference (DACC) had an international research audience who shared their latest scientific findings through a series of talks and poster presentations.
Over the years, the DACC has become a venue where new questions about the aging brain are addressed and many provocative discussions ensue, said Dr. Denise Park, CVL’s director of research, Distinguished University Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a UT Regents’ Research Scholar and the organizer of the conference.
“Are age-related declines in cognition inevitable, or can interventions be developed to resist or delay them? This is just one of the important questions we addressed,” she said.
This year’s DACC featured speakers included Dr. Carol Barnes from the University of Arizona, Dr. Thad Polk from the University of Michigan, Dr. Brad Dickerson from Harvard University and Dr. Mara Mather from the University of Southern California. Topics included animal models of neurocognitive aging, changes in brain structure and function with age, the healthy brain in transition to disease, and the social and emotional underpinnings of neurocognitive aging.
Dr. Lars Nyberg, who directs the Center for Functional Brain Imaging at Umeå University in Sweden, gave the keynote address. He discussed the many factors that affect cognitive aging, including physical fitness levels, socio-economic status and higher educational achievement, all of which can serve as a buffer against cognitive decline.
Dr. Park presented findings from the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study, which is leading the way in understanding how the aging brain can maintain health in the face of the brain degradation that occurs commonly with age.
‘Since the first conference in 2010, the DACC has played a critical role in maintaining CVL’s international leadership in the cognitive neuroscience of aging,” said Dr. Michael Rugg, Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and CVL’s director. “It’s also a critical venue for our researchers and students to showcase their work to leading scientists from across the world.”
–Alex Lyda