This research will measure the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on age-related cognitive decline in older adults (e65, d80 years old). Alcohol use can negatively affect several aspects of everyday life, including the ability to make decisions, remember in both the short and long term, and pay attention. The normal aging process has also been shown to affect these behaviors, contributing to what is referred to as age-related cognitive decline. Alcohol consumption in older adults is on the rise. This is in part due to a progressively more permissive attitude towards social drinking over the last century. This study will measure the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on important cognitive abilities in older adults. Functional connectivity among brain areas will be measured by applying network theory principles to functional magnetic resonance imaging brain data collected during rest and working memory task performance. This is a novel and comprehensive way of analyzing functional information in systems that are as interconnected as the brain. This study will explore the driving hypothesis that moderate older drinkers will demonstrate greater age-related cognitive deficits than low older drinkers. We predict that cognitive deficits will be relaed to measurable changes in functional brain connectivity. Understanding how social drinking in older age affects age-related cognitive decline will help identify adults who are at risk of accelerating impairments due to alcohol consumption. My overarching training goal is to become an effective and innovative researcher in the study of human alcohol consumption and eventually, abuse. The training received as part of this proposal will help develop the skills and the intellectual framework necessary to achieve my goal.

Public Health Relevance

Moderate alcohol consumption has become prevalent in older adults (e65, d80 years old). Here, the cognitive performance and functional brain connectivity of low and moderate older drinkers was measured. Proposed analyses will help set the foundation for identifying individuals at higher risk for cognitive decline due to moderate alcohol consumption.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Biomedical Research Review Subcommittee (AA)
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Urbanas, Diana
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Moussa, Malaak Nasser; Wesley, Michael J; Porrino, Linda J et al. (2014) Age-related differences in advantageous decision making are associated with distinct differences in functional community structure. Brain Connect 4:193-202