The Center provides training in the context of a broad range of research projects that fall into six thematically connected areas:
The research strives to assess and understand "life as it is lived." Using Daily Diary (DD) and Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) designs, these studies emphasize physiological, emotional, social, cognitive, and behavioral components of daily life that influence aging, health, and well-being. Our Center is home to several intensive measurement studies that use DD, EMA, and measurement burst designs in large national, racially diverse, and high risk samples.
Faculty and researchers employ multiple methods to understand how cognition changes with age. Research topics include memory, language, attention, executive function, and methods to maintain cognition. Many of the researchers in this area investigate these topics using both behavioral measures and neuroimaging techniques.
Several faculty are actively engaged in examining behavioral interventions to maintain health, everyday functioning, and emotional wellbeing. Interventions include cognitive training, exercise programs, and family-oriented interventions. Ongoing studies and research at the Center promise to offer new insights and advances for healthy aging.
Scientists and engineers in our center develop cognitive tests and software that allows researchers to measure subtle changes in cognitive function using assessments obtained on mobile devices. Our mobile assessment tools are currently used in clinical trials to evaluate dietary and cognitive training interventions, in longitudinal studies to improve the early identification of Alzheimer’s and related dementia, and track short-term (e.g., hourly) variations in cognitive function associated with psychosocial (e.g., stress) and physiological (e.g., glucose excursions in Type 1 diabetics) states.
Close relationships play a critical role in healthy aging. Research studies conducted within the Center for Healthy Aging are targeted at important issues facing our aging population. One current focus is on how changes in health affect the structure and quality of our close relationships (and vice versa) as we age. In addition, we study the experiences of family caregiving and care-receiving, particularly within older couples. Our research staff also have a long history of documenting the positive and negative influence of close family members on self-management of chronic illness and engagement in healthy behaviors such as exercise and good sleep practices.
Our population is not only becoming older, it is becoming more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Investigators in our center conduct research to identify psychological, social, and physiological factors that are associated with health, well-being and mortality, and whether these relationships are unique to all minority older adult populations. The overarching goal of these research efforts is to provide empirical evidence of potential mechanisms that can be modified to sustain and/or improve the latter end of the life course across our diverse older adult populations.