Conference Draws Leading Thinkers in Brain Studies
Center for Vital Longevity Hosts 2nd Annual Aging and Cognition Conference
Feb. 14, 2011
Two dozen of the world’s foremost experts have gathered in Dallas over the past two days to share their latest scientific findings on how aging affects the brain, mind and memory.
Sponsored by UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity, the second annual Dallas Aging and Cognition Conference focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of memory and aging. The studies discussed at the conference are answering basic questions about how the aging brain affects memory and other key cognitive functions.
“Leading international scientists and clinicians who research memory, aging and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s have come here to exchange ideas,” said Dr. Michael Rugg, co-director of the Center for Vital Longevity and an organizer of the conference.
“Events such as this foster dissemination of new scientific information that ultimately will help investigators develop interventions to slow or halt mental decline in a graying population.”
The speakers at the conference were drawn from universities around the world, including Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of Edinburgh, Stockholm University, the Rotman Research Institute in Ontario, and the National Institute on Aging, as well as from UT Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“The number and caliber of scientists attending this conference is recognition of our center’s and this city’s intellectual quality and leadership in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and memory, and the science of the aging mind,” said Dr. Rugg, the University Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences at UT Dallas.
“The event also offers an important experience for our graduate students and postdocs as they progress toward their careers as independent investigators. They have an opportunity to present their own research in poster presentations in a professional setting and to interact one-on-one with the most prominent experts in their field.”
Research at the Center for Vital Longevity is aimed at discovering how changes over time in the brain’s structure and function affect cognitive abilities, both in healthy people and those with age-related diseases. Researchers also are involved in a number of studies to determine whether specific interventions, such as exercise, learning new skills and engaging in social activities can help maintain mental vitality in older adults.
Dr. Rugg’s research uses cutting-edge techniques in neuroscience to investigate how patterns of neural activity in the brain give rise to fundamental cognitive functions like memory, attention and language. He moved his lab to Dallas from the University of California, Irvine in January and co-directs the Center for Vital Longevity with Dr. Denise Park, founder of the center who also holds a University Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and is a Regents’ Research Scholar at UT Dallas.
“With efforts such as this conference and with talented scientists such as Dr. Rugg joining our team, we are truly helping to place the Center for Vital Longevity and UT Dallas among the top centers in the world for research into the aging mind,” Dr. Park said.