• October 15, 2015

    Dr. Angus Deaton

    The 2015 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded to National Institute on Aging grantee Angus Deaton, Ph.D., of Princeton University, N.J.

    “The National Institute on Aging is proud to have supported Dr. Deaton’s work for more than 20 years,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “His work has examined how circumstances including income inequality and early childhood nutrition influence health and subjective well-being across the life course in the United States and around the world.”

    Deaton’s NIA funded research has focused on measuring poverty among the elderly in the US, the influence of income and inequality on health and mortality in high, middle, and low income countries, as well as the role of work in the decline of health at older ages. His more recent funded work focused on the measurement of subjective well-being, a self-reported quality of life measure. Dr. Deaton has examined the impact of the financial crisis on well-being in the United States as well as how subjective measures of wellbeing vary across people in different societal groups and in different countries. His funded research has been published in high-profile medical and economics journals such as PNAS, Lancet and the American Economic Review.

    Deaton has also received support from the Fogarty International Center at NIH.

    NIA congratulates Dr. Deaton on his outstanding contributions to health science.

  • September 24, 2015

    The ability to suppress inappropriate behavioral responses—known as cognitive inhibitory control—is essential for everyday living. The time required for the brain to inhibit a response is called the stop-signal reaction time. Certain conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and even normal aging, can affect cognitive inhibitory control, resulting in a slower stop-signal reaction time.

    Basic studies are underway to help better understand the mechanisms behind this process, which may ultimately lead to new therapeutic targets for people with cognitive problems affecting stop signal reaction times. One new finding, reported online Sept. 14, 2015 in Nature Neuroscience, provides important new insights. Most research to date on cognitive inhibitory control and stop-signal reaction time has focused on the fronto-basal-ganglia circuit, a part of the brain that helps control movement. Now, researchers from the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging at NIH and Johns Hopkins University provide new evidence that this cognitive function might also be controlled by the inhibition of neurons in another part of the brain, the basal forebrain, the bottom-front part of the brain typically associated with the wake and sleep states as well as with learning and memory. Changes in the basal forebrain have also been associated with age-related cognitive decline, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

    In the study, investigators trained rats to respond to a sound, but to inhibit their response if the sound was immediately followed by a light signal. Researchers measured the rats’ stop-signal reaction times and recorded neuronal activity in the basal forebrain.

    Researchers found that the neurons in the basal forebrain of rats were silenced—not firing signals—immediately before cognitive inhibitory control. The faster the neurons were silenced, the shorter the stop-signal reaction time. This link was further established when scientists artificially silenced basal forebrain neurons and saw that the rats would no longer respond to sound even when there was no light signal. This suggests that basal forebrain neurons alone are powerful enough to exert cognitive inhibitory control over behavior in the rats.

    Reference: Mayse, J.D., et al., Basal Forebrain Neuronal Inhibition Enables Rapid Behavioral Stopping. Nature Neuroscience. E-pub Sept 14, 2015. doi: 10.1038/22.4110.

  • September 11, 2015

    On September 18, older adults will join the U.S. Surgeon General, the Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), fitness expert Donna Richardson, and leaders from a number of agencies and organizations for a fitness walk in the Nation’s capital. The event, which features the NIA Go4Life exercise and physical activity campaign and Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities, highlights the importance of exercise and physical activity for healthy aging.

    Who will be there?

    • VADM Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., U.S. Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Richard J. Hodes, M.D., Director, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
    • Nora Super, Executive Director, 2015 White House Conference on Aging
    • Donna Richardson, Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
    • Representatives from leading aging and health agencies and organizations
    • Older adults from the Washington metro area who are interested in healthy aging and physical activity.

    When and where will it take place? Friday, September 18, 2015. 12:45 p.m. arrival; walk starts promptly at 1:00 p.m. Beginning and ending at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building Plaza, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C.

    Note: In case of rain, the event will be held at the South Interior Building Auditorium, 1951 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. NIA will notify organizations by e-mail and place an announcement on its website by 10 a.m. on September 18, should a decision be made that the event will move indoors to the Interior Department site.

    Go 4 Life Month, September 2015. In collaboration with The White House Conference on Aging.

  • September 4, 2015

    Get up to speed on the latest in Alzheimer’s and dementia.

    Learn what you need to know to inform, educate, and empower
    community members, people with dementia, and family caregivers.

    The National Institute on Aging at NIH (NIA), Administration for Community Living (ACL), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are pleased to invite you to join the 4th annual free webinar series on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for professionals in the public health, aging services, and research networks.

    Free continuing education credit is available (CNE, CEU, and CECH)!

    TO REGISTER for each webinar, go to and enter the event number listed below for that webinar.

    Webinar 1 - September 2015:
    Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Resources You Can Use

    Tuesday, September 22, 2:00-3:30 pm ET

    Presentation slide deck for Webinar 1 (15.9MB)

    Recording of Webinar 1  (slides and audio - please note that the audio begins at the 3:15 mark
    Transcript of recording

    Take a quick tour of the latest resource information on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including:

    • What's new with the Federal Government's National Alzheimer’s Plan
    • Updates on information and support resources
      • for consumers and families
      • for caregivers
      • for service providers and other professionals
    • New resources on brain health and research participation


    • Ruth Drew, MS, Director of Family and Information Services, Alzheimer’s Association
    • Jennifer Watson, MA, Senior Public Affairs Specialist, NIA
    • Amy Wiatr-Rodriguez, MSW, Aging Services Program Specialist, ACL

    Webinar 2 - October 2015:
    What’s Happening in Alzheimer’s Research?

    Wednesday, October 21, 2:00-3:30 pm ET

    Presentation slide deck for Webinar 2 (19.2MB)

    Recording of Webinar 2 (slides and audio)
    Transcript of recording

    Get an overview of current Alzheimer’s research directions and studies, presented by leaders in the field. Learn about:

    • The research plan to cure, treat or prevent Alzheimer’s and related dementias by 2025
    • Engaging participants in studies through the Brain Health Registry
    • Investigating how exercise and diet affect dementia risk
    • Using technology to monitor, manage and study dementia and novel, early predictors of risk


    • Suzana Petanceska, PhD, Program Officer, Division of Neuroscience, NIA
    • Michael Weiner, MD, Professor in Residence in Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Medicine, Psychiatry, and Neurology, University of California San Francisco
    • Laura Baker, PhD, Associate Professor in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University
    • Martha Clare Morris, ScD, Director, Section of Nutrition & Nutritional Epidemiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Rush University
    • Jeffrey Kaye, MD, Director, Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center, Oregon Health & Science University

    Webinar 3 - November 2015:
    Caregivers Supporting People with Dementia: New Research and Technology

    Tuesday, November 17, 2:00-3:30 pm ET

    Presentation slide deck for Webinar 3 (11.6MB)

    Recording of Webinar 3 (slides and audio)
    Transcript of recording

    Learn more about dementia caregivers and the latest in tools and strategies to support them, including:

    • How the experiences of caregivers for people with dementia differ from those who care for people with other conditions
    • Innovative resources, including care planning tools and new technologies
    • New directions in respite-related research


    • Moderator: Erin Long, MSW, Aging Services Program Specialist, ACL
    • Darby Morhardt, PhD, LCSW, Research Associate Professor in Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, Northwestern University
    • Alicia Blater, MS, Family Caregiver Support Program Consultant, Lifespan Respite Project Director, North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services
    • Jill Kagan, MPH, Program Director, ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center
    • Carol Farran, PhD, Professor, Rush University Medical Center/Rush College of Nursing
  • September 1, 2015

    Being obese or overweight in middle age has been linked to increased risk of dementia. To learn more, researchers at the National Institute on Aging, part of the NIH, further explored the relationship between weight at midlife and Alzheimer’s among volunteers participating in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), one of the longest running studies of human aging in North America. They found that being obese or overweight at midlife—as measured by body mass index (BMI) at age 50—may predict earlier age of onset of the devastating neurodegenerative disorder. The study, led by Madhav Thambisetty, M.D., Ph.D., will appear online Sept. 1, 2015, in Molecular Psychiatry.

    Cognitively healthy at the start of the nearly 14-year study, each of the 1,394 BLSA participants received cognitive testing every one to two years; 142 volunteers eventually developed Alzheimer’s disease. The investigators found:

    • Each unit increase in BMI at age 50 accelerated onset by nearly 7 months in those who developed Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Higher midlife BMI was associated with greater levels of neurofibrillary tangles—a hallmark of the disease—in the brains of 191 volunteers, including those who did not develop Alzheimer’s.
    • Among 75 cognitively healthy volunteers who had brain imaging to detect amyloid, a protein whose fragments make up the brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, those with higher midlife BMI had more amyloid deposits in the precuneus, a brain region that often shows the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s-related changes.

    More study is needed to determine the relationship behind BMI at midlife and Alzheimer’s onset. The findings suggest, however, that maintaining a healthy BMI at midlife might be considered as one way to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

    Reference: Chuang, Y-F, et al., Midlife adiposity predicts earlier onset of Alzheimer’s dementia, neuropathology and presymptomatic cerebral amyloid accumulation. Published online Sept. 1, 2015 in Molecular Psychiatry.

  • August 28, 2015

    The brains of people who live to age 90 and older—the oldest-old—usually have a mix of pathologies associated with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes are the most common, but other pathologies often found at autopsy include infarcts, Lewy bodies, hippocampal sclerosis, and white-matter disease. For the first time, researchers examined the relationship between the number of pathologies found at autopsy and the severity of dementia in the oldest-old. They found the more pathologies present in the brain, the more severe the dementia, and that Alzheimer’s pathology alone was less damaging to cognition than mixed pathologies.

    The study led by Claudia Kawas, M.D., and Maria M. Corrada, Sc.D., University of California, Irvine, involved 183 volunteers in The 90+ Study, one of the largest studies tracking the well-being of the oldest-old in the world. The participants, 70 percent of whom were women, received physical and cognitive testing every 6 months. When they died at an average age of 97, about 54 percent were diagnosed with dementia. Their donated brains were examined for eight different cerebral pathologies.

    The investigators found:

    • Alzheimer’s pathology alone was less likely to result in dementia. Alzheimer’s was found in about the same number of people with dementia (28 percent) and those without symptoms (23 percent).
    • Mixed pathologies, however, increased risk for dementia; they were found in 45 percent of those with dementia and in 14 percent of symptom-free volunteers.
    • Non-Alzheimer’s disease pathologies appeared more likely to result in dementia. People with a single non-Alzheimer’s pathology were 12 times more likely to have dementia than those with no pathology. In contrast, those with Alzheimer’s pathology were 3 times more likely to have dementia than those with no pathology.
    • Dementia prevalence increased with the number of pathologies found in the brain, from 22 percent in people with no pathologies to 95 percent of those with 3 or more pathologies.
    • Dementia severity also increased in direct proportion to the number of pathologies found in the brain. For example, people with mixed pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s hippocampal sclerosis and white-matter disease, had more severe symptoms than those who only had Alzheimer’s pathology.

    Reference: Kawas, C.H., et al. Multiple pathologies are common and related to dementia in the oldest-old: the 90+ Study. Neurology. Epub 2015 Jul 15, 2015.

  • August 26, 2015

    Fasting, the most extreme form of dietary restriction, has been shown to have multiple health benefits in many – but not all – animal models, but may not be a practical or safe long-term intervention for people.  A team of researchers, led by scientists at the University of Southern California, studied the effects of a short-term fasting-like diet in mice and humans to determine potential health benefits.   

    Mice fed a low-calorie, low-protein fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) for 4 days twice a month and allowed to eat freely between FMD cycles experienced a number of health benefits. These included reduced cancer incidence, total fat, and inflammation. In addition, mice in the FMD group performed better on tests of short- and long-term memory, indicating that FMD may improve memory and cognition. On average, mice on FMD also lived 3 months (or approximately 11 percent) longer than mice in the control group.

    To understand whether FMD may have the same advantages in humans as in mice, the researchers conducted a small, 3-month pilot study with 19 healthy volunteers in the intervention arm. Study participants followed a short-term FMD regimen, eating 1,100 kcal on day one, 725 kcal on days two through five, and their regular diet for the remainder of the month. After 3 months, researchers found participants on FMD had a 3 percent reduction in body weight and reduced risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

    The researchers strongly cautioned that the FMD used in the pilot study was an experimental approach, requiring close and continuous medical supervision. More research is needed to determine the effects of FMD, particularly in the long-term.

    Reference: Brandhorst, S., et al. A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan. Cell Metabolism. July 7, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.05.012

  • August 24, 2015

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA), a major research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Director, Division of Behavioral and Social Research (DBSR). For the full job posting, please visit

  • August 10, 2015

    Much of the research on human aging has been conducted in animal models and in older people. The Dunedin Study in New Zealand, funded in part by NIA, has taken a different approach, studying a group of 1,037 people born in 1972-73 from birth to age 38. Study investigators recently reported that they have identified, differences in the “biological age” of participants, indicating that young adults are aging at different rates.

    The researchers developed and validated two methods to measure aging in young adults. One method applied an algorithm of multiple biological measures, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. .  Using this method, some 38-year-olds appeared biologically older than their peers. A second method assessed the deterioration of several organ systems (heart, lung, kidney, liver, and immune function) over 12 years. They found that some study members aged at a faster rate than others.

    Study members with advanced biological age had poorer physical function and cognitive performance than those with younger biological age. Further, participants with older biological age considered themselves to have poorer health than biologically younger peers. When researchers showed a group of university students photos of study participants of the same chronological age and asked them to rate their age, the students scored the appearance of the biologically older participants as older than that of the biologically younger ones.

    The researchers suggest that future studies of aging continue to follow individuals over the life course to better understand rates of aging, starting from a young age, as well as incorporate repeated biological measures to monitor and predict health states. They also note that therapies to prevent age-related diseases could possibly be implemented earlier in the life course in biologically older people.

    Reference: Belsky, D.W., et al., Quantification of biological aging in young adults, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 6, 2015. Published online ahead of print.

  • July 13, 2015

    In a blog post on the White House Conference on Aging, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes wrote:

    “The White House Conference on Aging happening today at the White House occurs once per decade. But at the National Institutes of Health, particularly at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), we work on research every day related to understanding the nature of aging, supporting the health and well-being of older adults, and extending healthy, active years of life for more people.”

    Read the rest of the post and find out more about the WHCOA.