Arthur Kramer, Ph.D.

CVL to Welcome Expert on Impact of Exercise on Cognitive Aging

Univ. of Illinois’ Dr. Arthur Kramer to Deliver Keynote at CVL Annual Symposium

DALLAS – Dr. Arthur Kramer, the director of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology and the Swanlund endowed chair of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, will speak at the Center for Vital Longevity Director’s Research Circle annual symposium –  a half day event at the CVL on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

The theme for this year’s symposium, hosted by faculty at the CVL, is “Harnessing Brain Plasticity to Maintain and Improve Cognitive Vitality.” One central question to be asked: Do walking and other physical activities lead to the enhancement of cognitive and brain health across the lifespan? The answer may seem to be an unequivocal “yes,” but it’s not that simple.

To answer this and other questions, Dr. Kramer will be delivering the keynote talk on exercising and its effect on the mind and brain. Studies that demonstrate improvements in memory as a result of aerobic exercise – versus toning and stretching, for example – show the complexity and nuance of such a seemingly simple inquiry.

A major focus of Dr. Kramer’s lab at Illinois is devoted to understanding and enhancing cognitive and neural plasticity across the lifespan, in diverse ways, including exercise. Among other findings, Dr. Kramer’s studies have shown that aerobic training increases the size of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. In 2010, he demonstrated that fitness training increased hippocampal volume by 2 percent, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by one to two years.

A former associate editor of Perception and Psychophysics, Dr. Kramer is currently a member of six editorial boards. He is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, and a recipient of a NIH Ten Year MERIT Award.

Dr. Kramer visits the CVL at the invitation of Drs. Denise Park and Michael Rugg, the Center’s co-directors. His lecture will be followed by two further presentations by CVL researchers.

Dr. Chandramallika Basak, an assistant professor in the Center, will talk about, “Action vs. Strategy: Cognitive and Neural Correlates of Complex Skill Acquisition and Transfer.”

Lastly, Dr. Denise Park, at UTD Distinguished Professor and, as noted above, the CVL’s co-director, will share results of her “Synapse Project,” in a talk asking, “Does Sustained Engagement in Challenging Activities Improve Cognitive and Neural Function in Older Adults?”

- Alex Lyda