Research Studies

Contact and Directions

1. WISE BRAIN Study (PI: Cohen): This RO1 grant from the NIDDK (RO1DK099334-01A1) was funded in July of 2014 (5 years). This project is currently underway. The focus of the project is the effects of chronic obesity on brain structure and function and subsequent improvements that occur following bariatric surgery. The study employs multimodal neuroimaging to address these aims. Participants include 120 individuals undergoing bariatric surgery, half of whom have type II diabetes. Sixty participants with severe obesity who are not undergoing bariatric surgery will serve as controls in this longitudinal study.

2. The ACTIVE BRAIN Study (PI: Cohen/Woods): This is a multi- cohort study with two separate research arms; including the Institute on Aging’s LIFE Study participants from Gainesville and Jacksonville, and seniors from the greater North Florida community. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation. The study will collect three primary pieces of information from 200 total participants, including anatomical and functional neuroimaging, blood cytokines, inflammatory biomarkers and DNA analysis, and a broad cognitive performance test battery including piloting of the newly released NIH Toolbox Cognitive Measures. The study will cover a broad age range from 60-100 years, to establish a database of images and cognitive performance data for analysis, which will serve as the foundation for gathering independent peer review grant funding.

3. Proteomics and genomics of cognitive aging (PI: Cohen/Moroz): This pilot will study 50 elderly participants from the ACTIVE BRAIN Study, to analyze various circulating serum biomarkers, including inflammatory cytokines, metabolic factors and other proteins. Using the new UF Genomics System and in collaboration with the MBRF Genomics workgroup, DNA and RNA epigenetic biomarkers will also be examined in exploratory research on factors influencing normal brain aging. We are still collecting blood samples and have not yet initiated these analyses, but plan to in the coming year. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

4. Aging effects on semantic neural networks (Talking Brain Study; PI: Cohen): Study of 50 elderly participants, designed to analyze the semantic networks in the healthy aging brain. It will consist of newly designed tasks for performance during fMRI scans, with a variety of concrete vs. abstract words, across several different experimental paradigms including semantic generation tasks. This study will also serve as the basis for Amanda Garcia’s doctoral dissertation. She has already collected association norms on 200 elderly people using Amazon survey. This is unique data in its own right. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

5. Aging effects on visual cortical systems (Seeing Brain Study; PI: Cohen): Study of 50 elderly participants, aimed at characterizing age-associated changes in structural and functional brain systems involved in visual processing. This fMRI study will examine functional brain response across 7 visual paradigms that are sensitive to different processes underlying visual perception and higher order visual functions. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

6. Age associated changes in attention and arousal (Attentive Brain Study; PI: Woods): 40 participants will undergo a comprehensive attentional battery while undergoing fMRI. This study is intended to identify unique elements of attention that decline with age, and the brain systems that govern these elements. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

7. Neuromodulation of cognition in older adults (Stimulated Brain Study; PI: Woods): 50 subjects in a pilot randomized clinical trial, investigating the benefit of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on working memory and attention training in older adults. The study will utilize a multi-disciplinary neuroscientific approach to determine the mechanisms and effectiveness of pairing tDCS with cognitive training. This study is IRB approved and is beginning to enroll participants. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and a CTSI KL2.

8. Induced arousal: an intervention in cognitive aging (Alert Brain Study; PI: Woods): IRB approved study of 50 participants to investigate the role of brain arousal mechanisms on cognitive decline and susceptibility to cognitive frailty. This study will use a combination of fMRI, ERP, and physiological recording to identify biomarkers of frailty. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

9. Effects of oxytocin on socio-emotional decisions in aging (FACES; PI: Ebner): Examines the effects of Oxytocin administration on various measures of socioemotional functioning and social decision making in aging adults. Young and older adults self-administer oxytocin or a placebo intranasally before working on a trust-related decision making task, a facial trust-worthiness rating task, and an emotion recognition task. The central hypothesis is that older compared to younger adults particularly benefit from enhanced levels of oxytocin, as they experience increased difficulties with socioemotional tasks. This study is IRB approved and nearing completion. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the Pepper Center.

10. Oxytocin Clinical Trial (OXY; PI: Ebner): This clinical trial investigates the effects of 4 weeks of intranasal oxytocin administration on physical performance, cognitive functioning, and socioemotional functioning in older males. Older men will self-administer intranasal oxytocin or a placebo, twice daily over a period of 4 weeks. At baseline and post intervention, they will be examined on various measures of physical, cognitive, and socioemotional functioning, as well as various inflammatory markers will be analyzed. The central hypothesis is that older males in the oxytocin group will experience improvement in their physical health, their cognitive performance, and their social and emotional engagement over the trial period, mediated by oxytocin’s anti-inflammatory effects. This study is IRB approved and is soon to be initiated. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the Pepper Center.

11. Development of Clinical Methods to Evaluate Neural Function in Aging MIND (PI: Buford): The aim of the Mind study is to develop the ability of Clinical Research Core (RC1) to assess novel neural contributors to mobility and overall physical function in older adults. The development of these techniques will provide the RC1 with the tools to evaluate the potential involvement of the central and peripheral nervous systems in age-related cognitive decline. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the Pepper Center.

12. The metabolic costs of daily activity in older adults; A pilot study to evaluate the role of brain integrity on post-hospital sarcopenia and cognition in aging adults (The Strong Brain Study; PI: Manini/Woods): We will examine the integrity of the cortical-spinal tract and sarcopenia outcomes using the infrastructure of Dr. Catherine Price’s funded R01 entitled, Neuroimaging biomarkers for post-operative cognitive decline in older adults (R01 NR014181; IRB # 487-2012). This R01 is a prospective longitudinal study with two groups: older adults (age > 60 years) having total knee replacement (n=80) and non-surgery age and education matched peers with osteoarthritis (n=80). Both groups will acquire baseline MRI using sophisticated diffusion and functional measures to define specific neuronal regions of interest that relate to cognition, and complete cognitive testing at a pre-surgery/baseline time point followed by repeat testing at 2 days, 3 weeks and three-months, and one-year post-operative/post-baseline. Funds from this pilot study will be used to support additional MRI scan time baseline and 3 weeks and 3 months post-surgery. Co-funded by the NIH Pepper Center Grant and Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory Pilot Research. This study is IRB approved and data is being collected.

13. Think-2-Walk (PI: Clark): This study investigated whether peripheral sensory impairment increases cortical demand of walking. The primary hypotheses are that peripheral sensory impairments in older adults disrupt sub-cortical control of walking, leading to increased cortical demand of walking and concomitant deficits in mobility function. This study was completed and has led to a UF opportunity fund grant to investigate of the effects of tDCS brain stimulation on complex walking training. The study is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation and the Pepper Center.

14. ENIGMA-HIV (Sub-contract PI: Cohen): ENIGMA is a NIH-funded (1U54EB020403-01) neuroimaging and genetics consortium involving over 70 institutions worldwide. The goal of ENIGMA is to facilitate a BIG-DATA approach to understanding the effect of select disorders on the human brain. The Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory has been funded to lead the ENIGMA-HIV initiative. ENIGMA-HIV will bring together structural neuroimaging data from across the world to facilitate address high impact questions regarding HIV, the interaction between HIV and aging, and other topics.

15. U-TRACK (PI: Woods): This six-month follow-up pilot study investigates mechanisms, predictive factors, and long-term consequences of acute cognitive impairment (e.g., delirium) with urinary tract infection (UTI) in older adults. UTI is one of the most common infectious diseases in older adults. Over 40% of older adults with UTI suffer from cognitive symptoms. This study will attempt to determine the role of neuroinflammation in cognitive impairment with UTI and the factors that increase the susceptibility of certain older adults to these episodes of cognitive frailty. This project is funded by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation. The project is IRB-approved.