Currently, the work in our laboratory can be divided into three main research streams:
DEFAULT NETWORK & COGNITION
Our first line of work examines how the default mode network (DMN) – a network of interacting brain regions linked to internal cognition – support various cognitive processes, including memory, cognitive control, self-referential thought and social cognition.
Some current projects in the lab are looking at how BOLD signal variability in brain function can help characterize the brain's spatial architecture over time; temporal dynamics and anticorrelations in the brain; interactions between the DMN and other brain regions during interally-directed cognitive tasks; and neural activation of certain thought characteristics during states of active worry.
Our second line of work examines financial exploitation in healthy older adults. In doing so, we have 3 main goals:
1. To investigate age as a susceptibility marker of financial deception.
2. To characterize the extent to which cognitive and socioemotional dysfunction, age-related dampening in neurophysiological reactivity, and structural and functional brain changes contribute to increased susceptibility to financial deception in heathy aging adults.
3. To develop and psychometrically validate a novel risk assessment tool, as well as to develop an automated deception warning tool to alert older adults about potential online fraud.
Our third line of work examines aging and preclinical Alzheimer's disease (AD). This research program is twofold:
1. Past work has found that loneliness in older adulthood is associated with cognitive decline and more rapid onset of AD. Our lab explores how loneliness, a modifiable risk factor, may impact the structure and function of the brain in preclinical AD. Specifically, we focus on changes to the default network as this region is selectively vulnerable to both loneliness and AD.
2. Our lab is also invested in examining the cholinergic system, which is thought to be vulnerable in AD. We hope to (1) identify cell-type specific degeneration of the cholinergic basal forebrain neurons across the early stages of AD, and (2) and map the spread of cholinergic degeneration by examining the covariance of structural degeneration between the basal forebrain and cortex.
Check out our recent publications for examples of our research in action!
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Our laboratory utilizes different magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to explore how large-scale neural dynamics support various cognitive processes across the lifespan. These techniques include anatomical imaging, quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM), diffusion-weighted MRI, as well as resting-state and task-based functional MRI. Members of our lab are also interested in using multivariate statistical approaches to assess how the structure and function of the brain changes over the course of healthy aging and pre-symptomatic Alzheimer's disease progression. Overall, we hope to better understand how the neural dynamics underlying cognitive processes change over time in healthy and pathological aging.