• 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 here

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

international University down arrow

CVl Annual Review

CVl Annual Review

Charting Our Progress is CVL’s annual review, with archives available

Logo cvl Logo dallas

National Science Foundation to Fund Center Research on Targeted Stimulation of Brain Networks to Possibly Enhance Memory

DALLAS – Sept. 21, 2017 – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Dr. Gagan Wig nearly $150,000 to investigate whether certain cognitive abilities can be enhanced by directly manipulating a corresponding brain system using non-invasive brain stimulation.

Differences in cognitive abilities such as executive function, long-term memory, and language are present not only across different ages but also within groups of seemingly similar people, such as healthy young adults. Researchers consider these differences to reflect differences in the functional specialization of networks in the human brain.

While previous work has used non-invasive brain stimulation applied to numerous target locations to modify various aspects of cognition, actually improving the function of the relevant networks has been difficult to achieve. Where stimulation-associated gains in cognitive ability have been noted in previous work, there has been sparse evidence linking behavioral change to changes in underlying neurophysiology.

With the aid of this funding, Dr. Wig, who leads the Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Center for Vital Longevity, will attempt to use “network-guided” non-invasive brain-stimulation to directly alter the functioning of brain networks to affect executive function and long-term episodic memory in healthy young adults. The researchers will stimulate the brain using a magnetic coil that briefly alters the function of a small patch of the brain’s cortex – a technique known as trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS.

“This research could possibly provide an approach for modifying cognitive ability within an individual,” Dr. Wig says. “It should also help us further understand the brain mechanisms that mediate cognitive dysfunction in impaired individuals across the lifespan, and may allow application of the research program toward delaying or even preventing cognitive dysfunction in vulnerable individuals, using brain stimulation.”

To characterize cognitive and brain changes, the study will incorporate extensive cognitive testing and measurement of brain network organization using functional magnetic resonance imaging, collected both prior to and following the multiple TMS sessions. The TMS sessions themselves will target critical “nodes” within two functional brain systems that have been implicated in each cognitive domain: the frontal-parietal control system and the default system, respectively.

The NSF’s funding mechanism for this research is the Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research program, which is specifically used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. The aim of the grants is to encourage radically different approaches that applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.