Over the past century, scientific and medical advances have led to tremendous increases in longevity for our bodies. But these advances have not been matched by corresponding progress in the vitality of the aging brain. The Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas exists to change that.
Founded in 2010, and led by co-directors Dr. Denise Park and Dr. Michael Rugg, the center brings together an extraordinary group of research scientists who are using advanced brain-imaging technologies and research techniques in cognitive neuroscience to understand, maintain and improve the vitality of the aging mind. Their focus holds particular importance to our society, which has a higher proportion of older adults than ever before.
Center scientists are working to identify a neural signature in middle-aged adults that will help predict who will and will not age well cognitively and who might be at risk of Alzheimer’s disease long before symptoms appear. They are elucidating how memories are formed and retrieved and how these processes change with age. And they are investigating the effects of physical exercise and mental stimulation on memory and cognition in young and older adults. The ultimate goal of these wide-ranging studies is to develop ways to maintain and even enhance the cognitive health and vitality of our rapidly aging populace and that of future generations.
The center’s facilities, located in Dallas, Texas, include 30,000 square feet of research space including cognitive testing rooms and laboratories. In addition, investigators conduct functional and structural neuroimaging studies at facilities in the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC), a collaborative enterprise between UT Dallas, UT Arlington, and UT Southwestern Medical Center, where the AIRC is housed.