dementia16Cognitive health is a key determinant of satisfaction, engagement and independence throughout life. Cognition refers to functions of the brain including attention, learning, memory, language and executive function along with higher order functions, like decision-making, goal-setting, planning and judgment. In addition to normal changes in cognition that occur in most people, brain diseases grow more common with age and threaten the well-being of older people and their families. Very significant health, social and economic burdens are associated with dementia.

Healthy aging is notably distinct from disease-related aging, however. Although speed of processing declines even in normal aging, verbal ability, procedural and semantic memory are well preserved, and knowledge trajectories and emotion regulation abilities increase. Cognitive performance is also improving over historical time, and gains are observed in late life as well.

We pursue research that explore lifestyles and practices that maintain cognitive health, early detection of brain diseases and the implications of age-based policies and interventions that may support and sustain optimal cognitive functioning throughout life.