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Mental Health

Mental Health and Aging

As the U.S. population of older adults booms over the coming decades, there will be an increasing demand for knowledge that can be leveraged to promote quality of life and prevent disability. The faculty members in the Department of Mental Health’s Program in Cognitive Aging and Mental Health are highly committed to observational and intervention research aimed at enhancing cognitive and mental health.

The Program faculty members conduct research using large-scale, longitudinal observational and intervention study designs, including: dietary supplemental, cognitive training, and cognitively enriching “everyday” interventions to promote cognitive, brain, and functional health; imaging studies of aging and age-related cognitive disorders; late-life sleep disturbances as predictors of cognitive and functional impairment and decline; the natural history and consequences of mental disorders in diverse aging adults; genetics of cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease; real-time assessment of lifestyle activity as future targets of intervention; environmental and pharmacologic risk modifiers of cognitive, brain and functional aging and dementia risk; animal models of aging and neurodegeneration; and prevention of late-life mental health problems.

Ongoing and Future Plans for the Program

  • Expanding our work on serum and imaging biomarkers of aging and neurodegenerative diseases· Expanding our work on stress- and anxiety-related disorders; later life alcohol and drug problems
  • Developing new epidemiologic strategies to explore and test behavioral interventions to prevent and delay progression of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Applying state-of-the-art functional neuroimaging methods as sensitive, intermediate outcomes in the evaluation of mental health interventions
  • Promoting research focused on health disparities and the health and well-being of racial/ethnic minority older adults
  • Exploring how neighborhood disadvantage may serve as a common cause between individual risk factors and cognitive and functional health, particularly in minority populations.