Our attention, memory and the decisions we make are affected by the stresses of the moment and our emotional goals. How emotion and stress affect these cognitive efforts changes with age, yet the underlying mechanisms of these age differences are not clear. This proposal for a Career Development Award outlines two studies that combine structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine how age affects the brain mechanisms that coordinate emotion and cognition. The first study tests the role of cognitive control in older adults'positivity effect by scanning younger and older participants while they watch negative, positive, or neutral pictures either while distracted or not. Previously, we have found that older adults ignore negative stimuli and attend to positive stimuli when not distracted, but that distraction eliminates this positivity effect. Study 1 tests the hypothesis that older adults engage prefrontal-based cognitive control mechanisms to modulate the amygdala's response to emotional stimuli. Study 2 examines how stress affects decision making differently for younger and older adults. Previous results indicate that acute stress reduces risk taking in older adults but not younger adults. In this study, brain activity during rest and a risky decision task will be compared in a stress and a control condition. The role of chronic stress in modulating brain activity will be examined in both studies. Substantial training in neuroanatomy and analyzing structural and functional MRI data will occur via tutorials, workshops and graduate-level courses and seminars. Understanding the brain mechanisms of emotion-cognition interactions is a key goal of the PI;this Career Development Award will give her expertise in MRI and neuroanatomy that will help her develop and test theories about age differences in the mechanisms of emotion, stress and cognition.
Understanding age differences in the brain mechanisms of how emotion and stress affect cognitive processing is key to understanding how people can maintain mental sharpness and emotional well-being throughout life.
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|Barber, Sarah J; Mather, Mara; Gatz, Margaret (2015) How Stereotype Threat Affects Healthy Older Adults' Performance on Clinical Assessments of Cognitive Decline: The Key Role of Regulatory Fit. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 70:891-900|
|Barber, Sarah J; Mather, Mara (2014) How retellings shape younger and older adults' memories. J Cogn Psychol (Hove) 26:263-279|
|Clewett, David; Bachman, Shelby; Mather, Mara (2014) Age-related reduced prefrontal-amygdala structural connectivity is associated with lower trait anxiety. Neuropsychology 28:631-42|
|Clewett, David; Schoeke, Andrej; Mather, Mara (2014) Locus coeruleus neuromodulation of memories encoded during negative or unexpected action outcomes. Neurobiol Learn Mem 111:65-70|
|Lee, Tae-Ho; Sakaki, Michiko; Cheng, Ruth et al. (2014) Emotional arousal amplifies the effects of biased competition in the brain. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 9:2067-77|
|Sakaki, Michiko; Kuhbandner, Christof; Mather, Mara et al. (2014) Memory suppression can help people ""unlearn"" behavioral responses--but only for nonemotional memories. Psychon Bull Rev 21:136-141|
|Sakaki, Michiko; Ycaza-Herrera, Alexandra E; Mather, Mara (2014) Association learning for emotional harbinger cues: when do previous emotional associations impair and when do they facilitate subsequent learning of new associations? Emotion 14:115-29|
|Lee, Tae-Ho; Baek, Jongsoo; Lu, Zhong-Lin et al. (2014) How arousal modulates the visual contrast sensitivity function. Emotion 14:978-84|
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