The Center provides awards of up to $50,000 to faculty researchers across the Stanford campus. Projects are selected through a competitive process open to all faculty, and proposals have encompassed a wide range of solutions to improve life at all ages. Seed grants are intended to back new areas of study that might not be funded through traditional sources. The Center’s goal is that these studies will then win support from external sponsors or have tangible impacts in the private or public sector.
FINANCIAL FRAUD RESEARCH CENTER SEED GRANT, 2012
The Financial Fraud Research Center, a joint initiative of the Stanford Center on Longevity and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, is pleased to announce the recipients of it its first $50,000 seed grant. Stanford researchers, led by Ian Gotlib, David Starr Jordan Professor of Psychology, will investigate the role of emotion on responses to fraudulent advertising.
THE EFFECTS OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE AROUSAL ON THE SUSCEPTIBILITY OF OLDER ADULTS TO FALSE ADVERTISING
Ian H. Gotlib, PhD – Professor, Department of Psychology
Katharina Kircanski, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology
Nanna Notthoff, MA – Doctoral Student, Department of Psychology
Perpetrators of fraud often report attempting to evoke strong emotions, such as excitement or anger, in potential victims as a way of impairing their decision-making ability. Although excitement and anger are distinct emotions, they share a state of high arousal, assessed with self report and psychophysiological measurement. Ian Gotlib, Professor of Psychology, and his team are using their seed grant to conduct a laboratory study with older adults in which they are examining the immediate effects of positive and negative high-arousal states on responses to fraudulent advertisements, compared with a low-arousal control condition. Findings from this study will allow these investigators to examine the differential impact of positive and negative mood states and levels of arousal on susceptibility to fraudulent advertisements and will help in the design of fraud prevention programs.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH NETWORK ON DECISION NEUROSCIENCE AND AGING SEED GRANTS, 2012
NEURAL MECHANISMS OF VALUE-DIRECTED REMEMBERING IN YOUNGER AND OLDER ADULTS
Michael Cohen – PhD student in Psychology, UCLA
Alan Castel – Assistant Professor of Cognitive Psychology, UCLA
Jesse Rissman – Assistant Professor of Cognitive Psychology, UCLA
Barbara Knowlton – Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience, UCLA
Aimee Drolet – Professor of Marketing, UCLA
The ability to use memory effectively requires one to focus on more important to-be-remembered information at theexpense of less important information. Previous studies have shown that, at least in certain contexts, older adults are able to successfully prioritize the encoding of valuable information. Still, relatively little is known about the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the ways in which high-value items are processed differently from less valuable items, particularly in healthy older adults. In this research project, an fMRI study will adapt Castel et al.’s behavioral paradigm to characterize neural correlates of value-directed remembering in young and older adults. In addition, to provide a stronger connection between the laboratory measure of value-incentivized remembering and real-world economic outcomes, the project will relate individual differences in selectivity on the word memory task with more traditional measures of economic decision-making.
FINANCIAL DECISION MAKING AT RETIREMENT
Vinod Venkatraman – Assistant Professor of Marketing, Temple University
John Payne – Professor of Business, Law, and Psychology, Duke University
This project examines complex decisions like annuities and ducumulation of retirement investments in older adults using a multi-methodological approach that involves behavioral, eye tracking, and neuroscience experiments. A major emphasis will be on the development and validation of decision-making tasks that represent the complexities of real-world decisions and yet are suitable for experimentation using all three methodologies. This research will be carried out in two phases. The first will be an exploratory phase where the researchers will design and validate complex decision-making tasks that are suitable for laboratory evaluation using eye-tracking and fMRI. In phase 2, the researchers will obtain pilot data about the effects of aging on decision preferences in this task.
CENTER ON LONGEVITY SEED GRANTS, 2007-2011
DRUG DELIVERY MICROPUMP FOR MUSCLE STEM CELL DELIVERY
Helen Blau – Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University
Juan Santiago – Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Faculty Affiliates Blau and Santiago combined their expertise and a Center on Longevity seed grant to investigate how frequent, tiny doses of stem cell regulator molecules might help older muscles heal more quickly. The study led them to develop a novel, miniature implantable micropump that can deliver doses as small as 100 nanoliters. The device was successfully tested in laboratory mice. The work led to two patent applications and more than $750,000 in follow-on funding from other sources.
STEP BY STEP FALL PREVENTION
Tom Andriacchi – Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University
Fall related injuries are a serious problem for older adults. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that more than one in three adults over 65 experience a fall every year and that falls are the leading cause of injury- related death in older adults. At the Stanford Biomotion Lab, Faculty Affiliate Tom Andriacchi and his team have approached this problem with technology- based solutions. Previous research has shown that falls are often preceded by development of a “gait asymmetry,” in which stride length and pace are not identical for both legs. Using seed grant funding from the Stanford Center on Longevity, the team developed a system that measures gait symmetry and provides biofeedback through a series of sounds. In the future, this system could be used to create an evaluation and rehabilitation program for patients who develop asymmetry as a result of various health conditions.
SLEEP APNEA, INSULIN RESISTANCE, AND DEMENTIA
Ruth O’Hara – Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science, Stanford University
Researchers struggle to explain the causes of dementia, a condition that afflicts an estimated 3 of every 20 Americans over 65. Ruth O’Hara explored a correlation between sleep apnea (where breathing pauses during sleep) and dementia. With her seed grant, O’Hara and her team hypothesized that both sleep apnea and dementia are linked to insulin resistance. Their findings support the theory that sleep apnea contributes to cognitive impairment indirectly, by increasing insulin resistance—which several studies link to dementia. By providing a clearer understanding of the actual roots of cognitive impairment, this research will contribute to a conclusive, long-term study that could suggest specific ways of reducing risk for dementia.
THE MIND-BODY LINKAGES OF TAI CHI
Jessica Rose – Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University
Gary Glover – Professor of Radiology, Stanford University
Scott Atlas – Professor of Radiology and Senior Fellow at the FSI and the Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Faculty Affiliates Rose, Glover, and Atlas used their seed grant to develop a joint Stanford University-Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital study that examined the ability of tai chi masters to control normally autonomous functions through concentration. In the study, three tai chi masters were asked to “focus their chi” on their hands. They were able to raise the temperature of the hands 2° C – something normally thought to be outside the sphere of conscious control. Further, the masters exhibited the ability to isolate the effect to one side of the body. Brain images were recorded during the testing and documented exceptionally well developed neural pathways within these masters. Studying the brains and physiological responses of tai chi masters may shed light on medical concerns as wide-ranging as pain management, musculoskeletal conditions, and chronic circulatory disorders.
THE EFFECTS OF “WHITE MATTER” IN THE BRAIN
Michael Greicius – Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University
Affiliate Mike Greicius used his Center on Longevity seed grant to explore a hypothesized series of connections between white matter lesions (or “hyperintensities”) in the brain and behavioral impairments. These lesions are small areas of altered brain tissue that appear in MRI scans and are more frequently noticed in the brains of older individuals. Greicius’ hypothesis suggests that white matter lesions may lead to disrupted structural connectivity within the brain along what are known as neural “tracks.” These disruptions could then lead to functional deficits, in turn contributing to behavioral impairments. Such declines in function are what many people commonly associate with old age. With his seed grant, Greicius demonstrated a compelling correlation between white matter and cognitive abilities within a small sample of subjects and developed better methods for tracking hyperintensities. These findings suggest a more comprehensive study is warranted.
HEALTH CARE REFORM – PUBLIC SUPPORT AND PERSONAL COSTS
Daniel Kessler – David S. and Ann M. Barlow Professor and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Professor, by Courtesy on Health Research Policy and Law, Stanford University
David Brady – Bowen H. & Janice Arthur McCoy Professor in Leadership Values; Professor of Political Science; Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Access to healthcare has been a hot topic in the news, but does the public understand what health care access means for their personal finances? Faculty Affiliates Kessler and Brady investigated how knowledge of the personal cost of healthcare reform affects consumers’ decisions to support specific reforms. Kessler and Brady designed a survey that incorporated the respondents’ income level into a calculation that estimated the cost of reforms to that individual – described as an increase to their income tax. As a result, participants with higher income levels were asked to pay more for the reforms than lower income respondents, which is likely how actual reforms would be implemented. The results indicated that the public’s view of healthcare reform may be more nuanced than portrayed in the news. Knowledge of personal costs had a large affect on support for reforms, but some types of reforms still were favored by a majority.