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.

Public Health Relevance

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.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Type
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
Project #
5K02AG032309-04
Application #
8234967
Study Section
National Institute on Aging Initial Review Group (NIA)
Program Officer
Nielsen, Lisbeth
Project Start
2009-04-01
Project End
2014-03-31
Budget Start
2012-04-01
Budget End
2013-03-31
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$108,000
Indirect Cost
$8,000
Name
University of Southern California
Department
None
Type
Other Domestic Higher Education
DUNS #
072933393
City
Los Angeles
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
90089
Clewett, David; Bachman, Shelby; Mather, Mara (2014) Age-related reduced prefrontal-amygdala structural connectivity is associated with lower trait anxiety. Neuropsychology 28:631-42
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
Barber, Sarah J; Mather, Mara (2014) How retellings shape younger and older adults' memories. J Cogn Psychol (Hove) 26:263-279
Sakaki, Michiko; Fryer, Kellie; Mather, Mara (2014) Emotion strengthens high-priority memory traces but weakens low-priority memory traces. Psychol Sci 25:387-95
Lee, Tae-Ho; Baek, Jongsoo; Lu, Zhong-Lin et al. (2014) How arousal modulates the visual contrast sensitivity function. Emotion 14:978-84
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
Knight, Marisa; Mather, Mara (2013) Look out-it's your off-peak time of day! Time of day matters more for alerting than for orienting or executive attention. Exp Aging Res 39:305-21
Lighthall, Nichole R; Gorlick, Marissa A; Schoeke, Andrej et al. (2013) Stress modulates reinforcement learning in younger and older adults. Psychol Aging 28:35-46
Clewett, David; Schoeke, Andrej; Mather, Mara (2013) Amygdala functional connectivity is reduced after the cold pressor task. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 13:501-18
Mather, Mara; Cacioppo, John T; Kanwisher, Nancy (2013) How fMRI Can Inform Cognitive Theories. Perspect Psychol Sci 8:108-13

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