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Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch

The Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch sponsors research on neural and psychological mechanisms underlying age-related changes in cognition, emotion, sensory and motor function, from the level of genes to the whole organism and epidemiological studies of populations. Studies of molecular, structural, and dynamic brain changes, including research on adaptation or plasticity, resilience, and reserve are of particular interest, as well as interventions to maintain or gain function in older age. Cognitive Neuroscience encompasses research on neural mechanisms of age-related change in cognitive processes, including learning, memory, attention, executive function, and language at all levels of analysis. Prevention and treatment trials for age-related cognitive decline also are emphasized. Investigations of delirium and post-operative cognitive decline are supported. The relationship between delirium and dementia, as well as the distinction between age-related cognitive decline and pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, are also of interest. A focus on Sensory Processes supports studies on mechanisms of normal aging and disease-related alterations in visual, auditory, somatosensory, vestibular, and chemosensory functions. In an effort to understand Motor Function, research is supported on proprioception, postural control, neuromuscular function, sensory-motor integration, vestibular, and movement disorders in aging, including Parkinson's disease. The relationship between sensory or motor dysfunction and age-related dementia is a developing area. Affective Neuroscience supports studies on the neurobiology of age-related changes in emotion. Of particular interest is the interface between emotion and cognition. The Division of Neuroscience, and this branch in particular, interacts and collaborate with the Division of Behavioral and Social Research where psychological science and behavioral neuroscience converge, as well as with the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, where aging of non-neural systems, geriatric syndromes, and CNS function converges.

Molly V. Wagster, Ph.D.
Branch Chief

Adam B. Steinmetz, Ph.D.
Research Program Analyst
Email: adam.steinmetz@nih.gov

Cognitive Neuroscience Section

Molly V. Wagster, Ph.D.
Program Director, Neural Mechanisms of Cognitive Aging, Prevention and Treatment Trials for Age-related Cognitive Decline
Email: wagsterm@mail.nih.gov

Luci Roberts, Ph.D.
Program Director, Sex Hormones and Cognition; Cognition and non-CNS Co-morbidities; Delirium and Post-operative Cognitive Decline
Email: roberlu@mail.nih.gov

Sensory and Motor Disorders of Aging Section

Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke, Ph.D.
Program Director, Sensory and Motor Disorders of Aging
Email: coryse.sthillaire-clarke@nih.gov

Affective Neuroscience Section 

Luci Roberts, Ph.D.
Program Director, Neural Mechanisms of Emotional Aging
Email: roberlu@mail.nih.gov