The Memory and Aging Laboratory is a cognitive neuroscience research lab located in the School of Psychology annex in the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus.
Memories define who we are, where we have been and help guide our day-to-day actions. Even healthy people of all ages experience episodic memory failures, such as forgetting a person's name or where the car is parked. These failures become more common as we age even in older people without any signs of dementia. As these failures are also a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, it is extremely important to better understand their underlying neural causes and the interventions that might ameliorate these failures. This is the major focus of the work that we do in our laboratory.
There are several questions that we are currently investigating:
1) We know that prefrontal cortical (PFC) dysfunction is a major contributor to age-related memory impairments but the PFC is large and heterogeneous. What specific PFC processes and related neural networks are affected by age?
2) We know from neuroscience literature that brain activity occurring immediately prior to learning is important for memory performance. What does this activity reflect and how does aging change our ability to prepare to learn?
3) Can we use patterns of brain activity predictive of successful learning to faciliate learning in real time for people of all ages?
4) How do lifestyle factors like sleep quality, which is well known to decline with aging, and exercise affect memory ability in the lab and in the real world?
To address these and other issues we use multiple experimental techniques, such as behavioral testing, electrophysiology (EEG), functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and neuropsychological studies of people with brain injury.