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  • The Center mourns the loss of a dear friend and tireless CVL supporter. click here

  • CVL councilmember and benefactor’s life remembered in the Dallas Morning News.click here

  • Aging-themed issue of Nautilus Magazine explores cognitive benefits of learning a new game such as chess, cites CVL.click here

  • ‘Fitizen’ group at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas learns about research at CVL. click here

  • CVL research published in JoN finds that some memories persist in the face of strong interference. click here

  • Dr. Sara Festini’s research probes busyness levels and cognitive performance.click here

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Wig Lab Awarded New Funding to Advance Study of Aging Brain Networks

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DALLAS – Sept. 7, 2016 – The James S. McDonnell Foundation has chosen Dr. Gagan Wig, from the Center for Vital Longevity at UT Dallas, to receive a 2016 Understanding Human Cognition Scholar Award.

Consisting of $600,000 over six years, the award is geared toward researchers who are studying how neural systems support cognitive functions and how cognitive systems are related to observable behavior. Unlike most other funding organizations, the McDonnell Foundation requires applicants first be nominated to apply for the award. Nomination for this prestigious award is conducted by an anonymous group of international experts in the field of cognition and neuroscience who recognize the potential value of the nominee’s research. Nominees must then submit a proposal for consideration for funding, which is reviewed by an expert scientific panel.

Of the twenty nominees, Dr. Wig, along with seven other researchers from institutions around the world, including institutions such as Harvard University, Stanford University and Princeton University, were selected for the award.

With the help of this funding, Dr. Wig aims to establish a framework for studying age-related cognitive decline from a complex networks perspective. So far, according to Dr. Wig, researchers have not been able to deeply explore age-related cognitive decline and maintenance from a network-based perspective, for lack of a formal network-analysis approach toward understanding the healthy aging brain and how cognitive abilities change as we age. Previous work in the field has largely focused on describing differences in function at the level of activity in separate brain areas without delving into macro-level connections.

Using new tools to measure the interconnectivity and organization in the brain is a primary aim of Dr. Wig’s current work. His lab has been using an area of mathematics called graph theory to characterize how brain networks are organized and function in both healthy and unhealthy individuals. This approach has also been used to study social media networks, such as Facebook, the flow of public transportation, disease transmission, and even outbreaks of contagion.

“Being recognized and selected by the Foundation is extremely gratifying,” Dr. Wig said. “The Foundation’s tremendous support will give our work a critical boost in understanding how the very complex and interconnected systems of the human brain function and change with increasing age, and how these changes relate to changes in cognitive abilities such as memory and attention.”

Founded in 2010, the Center for Vital Longevity (CVL) is a research center of the University of Texas at Dallas, with scientists studying the cognitive neuroscience of aging and ways to maintain cognitive health for life. Researchers at CVL also investigate how to slow cognitive aging, and are developing methods for the early detection of age-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.