A career development plan is proposed for Dr. Joel Voss, a cognitive neuroscientist committed to a research career studying the brain substrates of memory and memory decline due to various pathological states. Dr. Neal Cohen at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will mentor the applicant. Dr. Cohen is an eminent scholar of the neural basis of memory and has a long record of training successful researchers, and the Beckman Institute provides a rich environment for cognitive neuroscience training. Furthermore, two renowned memory researchers will contribute to the scientific development of the applicant, including Dr. Mark D'Esposito at the University of California at Berkeley and Dr. Daniel Tranel at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. Dr. Voss'training will include developing expertise with multi-methods approaches to identifying the brain substrates of cognition and behavior. Training will involve noninvasive methods for measuring brain activity as well as the study of cognitive impairments in patients with focal brain damage and the effects of temporary disruption of neural processing in healthy individuals. Training will also involve studying the effects of aging on memory and using computer-simulated environments to study cognition in realistic circumstances. The proposed research program aims to discover how coordinated neural systems optimize learning and memory by strategically allocating resources in order to meet the demands of a particular learning situation. This process depends upon the confluence of executive function, attention, and memory, and is disrupted by pathological events that target the brain substrates of these three cognitive domains, such as Alzheimer's disease, Schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, and autism. The research also seeks to develop optimal strategies that can be used by older individuals to combat the pervasive challenge of age-related memory decline, which affects almost every individual as a result of normal aging. The proposed research has transparent clinical relevance with regard to remediation of the memory deficits of older individuals and broad relevance with regard to understanding the mechanisms of pathological effects on executive function, attention, and memory.

Public Health Relevance

This research is intended to discover how the brain enables individuals to strategically control how they interface with the environment in order to optimize learning and retain as much information as possible. In addition, this learning process will be studied in older adults in order to develop interventions to guard against the pervasive problem of memory decline due to normal aging. The knowledge that will be gained is relevant to understanding the mechanisms by which many disease states interfere with the neural machinery of memory, including Alzheimer's disease, Schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, and autism, and in developing treatments for these ailments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Transition Award (R00)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Babcock, Debra J
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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