How much brain power
do you use when you perform a task? That’s what Dr.
Bart Rypma is trying to understand in his research at UTD
Center for Brain Health, and the answer has important implications
for healthy aging.
In studying how
much neural activity our short-term memory requires to carry
out the business of our days, Dr. Rypma has learned that less
think that in neural activity, more means better,” he
says. “But it may be more accurate to think in terms
of efficiency—whether the brain is doing more work cognitively
with fewer neural resources.”
It seems that as
we get older, we require more neural activity in the prefrontal
cortex than younger people to perform cognitive tasks. Now
the question is – “why?” Dr. Rypma recently
received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to
study the physiological bases of age-related changes in short-term
“I hope my
work helps in the development of therapies that target specific
neural systems and vascular systems to improve the quality
of life of older adults,” he explains.
We are currently
working on several studies, click the links below to learn
Neurocognitive aging - Brain-aging theories are based on age-differences in blood-oxygen-level-dependent signal (BOLD) as measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). New evidence from biomedical engineering research suggests that changes in BOLD signal result from physiologic, neural, and cognitive factors that complicate interpretation of this signal as an index of age-related neural change. With more extensive study of these factors, and their relationships to behavior, we aim to elucidate the mechanisms of neural and vascular changes with age, and their effects on cognitive performance.
Working memory - Working memory is a cognitive ability that allows information to be kept in highly accessible state. Our laboratory studies how this ability changes with age and disease, as well as investigates the underlying neural mechanisms that give rise to normal variations in working memory.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - comprehensive investigation
of the neural basis for Multiple Sclerosis by using neuroimaging
and behavorial techniques to characterize the structural,
behavioral changes of the disease.
War Illness (GWI) - investigation of the neural bases of cognitive impairment due to GWI
Affect and cognition - understanding the neural basis of affect and the role of executive systems in emotional expression and regulation, and how relationships between affect and executive systems change in healthy aging and disease.
Auditory cognitive neuroscience - behavioral and fMRI studies of auditory perception and memory, with a focus on speech and music, in normal human cognition. Topics include auditory memory distortion, priming of musical sounds, recognition of speech and music, and working memory for mainstream and underground music.
Multi-modal interaction - Can a bright image make a corresponding tone sound "brighter" in timbre? We investigate how different sensory modalities interact with each other through higher-level semantic associations.