Dr. Denise C. Park
Director of Research of the Center for Vital Longevity, Regents'
Research Scholar and professor of behavioral and brain sciences.
Distinguished University Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Denise C. Park has spent her career studying how the mind ages, making seminal contributions to our understanding of how the operating speed and capacity of the human brain changes as we get older, how cultural experiences can shape brain activity, and how the aging brain might protect itself from structural degradation to maintain cognitive performance.
She currently directs the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study, which aims to identify a "neural signature" in middle-aged adults that will help predict who will and will not age well, as well as who might be at risk of Alzheimer's disease long before symptoms appear.
"Our society today has a higher proportion of older adults than ever before. In order to remain vibrant and productive, it is critical that our citizens maintain cognitive health well into older age. The goal of my research is to use sophisticated brain-imaging technologies and other techniques to advance our understanding of the aging brain and Alzheimer's disease and help aid the development of interventions to prevent or delay the cognitive frailty that too often comes with age."
Park is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science and a recipient of the American Psychological Association's award for Distinguished Contributions to the Psychology of Aging. She currently chairs the external scientific advisory board for the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.
Park earned her bachelor's degree from Albion College in Michigan and her PhD in experimental psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. She moved to UT Dallas in 2008 after professorships at the University of Georgia, University of Michigan, and University of Illinois.
An anonymous donor created the chair in September 2009 to support the research and scholarly activities of the faculty member appointed. Park filled the chair in March 2010.
Park has been funded by the National Institute on Aging for more than 25 years. She has published more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers and six books on the brain and aging.
"I am proud to be a member of the UT Dallas community and to be mentoring an extraordinary group of scientists dedicated to addressing a topic of tremendous medical and societal importance: maintaining the health and vitality of the aging mind."