Distinguished University Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences
UT Regents’ Research Scholar
“Our society today has a higher proportion of older adults than ever before. In order to remain vibrant and productive, it is critical that our citizens maintain cognitive health well into older age. The goal of my research is to use sophisticated brain-imaging technologies and other techniques to advance our understanding of the aging brain and Alzheimer’s disease and help aid the development of interventions to prevent or delay the cognitive frailty that too often comes with age.”
Dr. Park has spent her career studying how the mind ages, making seminal contributions to our understanding of how the operating speed and capacity of the human brain changes as we get older, how cultural experiences can shape brain activity, and how the aging brain might protect itself from structural degradation to maintain cognitive performance.
She currently directs the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study, which aims to identify a "neural signature" in middle-aged adults that will help predict who will and will not age well, as well as who might be at risk of Alzheimer's disease long before symptoms appear. She also leads the Synapse Project, which is systematically testing whether an engaged lifestyle can slow down the process of cognitive aging by facilitating the development of supportive neural scaffolds.
Dr. Park has been continuously funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for more than 25 years, and in 2006, was honored with a prestigious MERIT award. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science and a recipient of the American Psychological Association's award for Distinguished Contributions to the Psychology of Aging. She recently served on an international panel spearheaded by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association that issued new criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease and a new research agenda for studying the earliest stages of the disease, and she currently chairs the external scientific advisory board for the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.
She earned her bachelor's degree from Albion College in Michigan and her PhD in experimental psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. She moved to UT Dallas in 2008 after professorships at the University of Georgia, University of Michigan, and University of Illinois.
Huang, C.M., Polk, T.A., Goh, J.O., Park, D.C. (2012). Both left and right posterior parietal activations contribute to compensatory processes in normal aging. Neuropsychologia, 50, 55-66.
Park, J., Carp, J., Kennedy, K.M., Rodrigue, K.M., Bischof, G.N., Huang, C.M., Rieck, J.R., Polk, T.A., Park, D.C. (2012). Neural broadening or neural attenuation? Investigating age-related dedifferentiation in the face network in a large lifespan sample. Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 2154-2158.
Park, J., Hebrank, A., Polk, T.A., Park, D.C. (2012). Neural dissociation of number from letter recognition and its relationship to parietal numerical processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 39-50.
Park, J., Park, D.C., Polk, T.A. (2012). Investigating unique environmental contributions to the neural representation of written words: a monozygotic twin study. PLoS One, 7, e31512.
Rodrigue, K.M., Kennedy, K.M., Devous, M.D., Rieck, J.R., Hebrank, A.C., Diaz-Arrastia, R., Mathews, D., Park, D.C. (2012). β-Amyloid burden in healthy aging: Regional distribution and cognitive consequences. Neurology, 78, 387-395.