Skip to main content

Neurocognitive Aging Section

Peter Rapp, Ph.D., Chief

Age-related cognitive decline threatens independent living, compromises the quality of life, and represents a key risk for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Research in the Neurocognitive Aging Section (NAS) aims to understand the basis of cognitive aging across multiple levels of analysis, from the regulation of neuronal gene expression critical for memory-related synaptic plasticity, to the organization of large-scale neural network dynamics linked to cognitive function. In addition to illuminating substrates of impairment, NAS research has begun to outline a neurobiological account of positive trajectories in aging, revealing neuroadaptive changes that appear critical for maintaining normal memory in old age. Exciting new technologies currently coming online in NAS include transcranial magnetic stimulation for intervention studies in preclinical animal models, and light-sheet microscopy for large volume neural network imaging in CLARITY/iDISCO cleared brain samples. Ultimately our efforts are aimed at the development of translatable strategies for promoting optimally healthy neurocognitive aging.

Portfolio/Research Areas

  • Immediate-early gene regulation in cognitive aging
  • Neural network representation of recent experience in cognitive aging
  • Quantitative neuroanatomy in relation to individual differences in cognitive aging
  • Neuroadaptive substrates of successful cognitive aging
  • Disrupted excitatory/inhibitory balance and neurodegenerative risk
  • Functional MRI analysis of neurocognitive aging in preclinical models
  • Neurocognitive effects of non-invasive brain stimulation

Findings and Publications

Ash, J.A., Lu, H., Taxier, L., Long, J.M., Yang, Y., Stein, E.A. and Rapp, P.R. Functional connectivity with the retrosplenial cortex predicts cognitive aging in rats. PNAS, 113: 12286-91, 2016. 10.1073/pnas.1525309113

Tomás Pereira, I., Gallagher, M. and Rapp, P.R. Head west or left, east or right: interactions between memory systems in neurocognitive aging. Neurobiol. Aging, 36: 3067-78, 2015. 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2015.07.024

Sewal, A.S., Patzke, H., Perez, E.J., Park, P., Lehrmann, E., Zhang, Y., Becker, K.G., Fletcher, B.R., Long, J.M. and Rapp, P.R. Experience modulates the effects of histone deacetylase inhibitors on gene and protein expression in the hippocampus: impaired plasticity in aging. J. Neurosci., 35: 11729-42, 2015. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4339-14.2015

Hara, Y., Yuk, F., Puri, R., Janssen W.G.M., Rapp, P.R. and Morrison, J.H. Presynaptic mitochondrial morphology in monkey prefrontal cortex correlates with working memory and is improved with estrogen treatment. PNAS, 111: 486-91, 2014. 10.1073/pnas.1311310110

Castellano, J.F., Fletcher, B.F., Kelley-Bell, B., Kim, D.H., Gallagher, M. and Rapp, P.R. Age-related memory impairment is associated with disrupted multivariate epigenetic coordination in the hippocampus. PLoS ONE, 7(3):e33249, 2012 10.1371/journal.pone.0033249