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Understanding and Engaging the Aging Brain

“We are dedicated to unlocking the secrets of the aging mind and the maintenance of cognitive health for life.” Come learn how scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Vital Longevity are working to make this mission statement a reality.

In a panel discussion format, the Center’s research scientists will present their individual interests, show images of aging brains in action, and take questions from the audience. Our guest panel includes Dr. Ian McDonough, Dr. Sara Haber, and Dr. Kaoru Nashiro.

We are excited to hear about the innovative studies being conducted and understand that the results will serve to beneficially impact our own aging minds.

This event is kindly being hosted by Belmont Village Senior Living Turtle Creek

Here is some background on each of our panelists:

Dr. Ian McDonough:

I was born and raised in the SF Bay Area and moved down to Southern California to pursue an undergraduate degree in cognitive science at UCLA. At UCLA, I developed an interest in the processes of memory. After graduating from UCLA, I worked as a research assistant at UCI with one of the leading researchers in false memory. I left Irvine to pursue a PhD in cognitive psychology at the University of Chicago, where I learned more about false memories, aging, and the brain. I am currently doing research at the Center for Vital Longevity under Dr. Denise Park, where I am gaining new knowledge and skills to study the aging brain.


My research spans three types of research questions. First, why do people falsely remember events from their lives and how can we prevent those false memories? Second, what attributes underlie the intelligent brain and do these attributes differ with the aging process? Lastly, how do random patterns of brain activity relate to cognition and the aging process?

Dr. Sara Haber:

I was raised in upstate New York, and received my B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nevada, Reno where I studied false memories. Additionally, I received my Ph.D. from Rice University in 2012 where I studied memory and the aging brain. I am in my second year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Vital Longevity conducting research with Dr. Denise Park. My general research interests relate to optimizing both cognitive and brain health by adopting lifestyle changes in later life. Currently, I am working on a large scale, nationally recognized project (The Synapse Project) that focuses on engaging in leisure activities in an attempt to improve cognitive and brain functioning in older adults. Initial findings are among the first to determine what types of lifestyle activities (social engagement and/or cognitive engagement) are most beneficial as one approaches late adulthood.

Dr. Kaoru Nashiro:

I am originally from Okinawa, Japan - renowned for one of the highest proportions of centenarians in the world.  Beyond Okinawans’ healthy diet, regular exercise and strong social network, it seemed to me that the older adults who maintained a positive attitude and active lifestyle had the most enriched lives. These early experiences are the foundation for my keen interest in gerontological research.

In 2000, I moved to California to pursue my education. While I was an undergraduate at California State University East Bay, I became interested in psychology and aging and gained research experience in several different laboratories. Following my passion for successful aging, I studied gerontology at the University of Southern California and completed a 4-year internship at Kingsley Manor Retirement Community in Hollywood. In 2012, I obtained a Ph.D. in gerontology and moved to Dallas to join the Center for Vital Longevity. Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Chandramallika Basak who has an expertise in fMRI and cognitive training.

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  • Tami D.

    Awesome speakers. Went home and shared with my husband. We are going to learn to play Chinese checkers together!

    November 6, 2013

  • Richard J A.

    I liked that the panel left us with 3 take aways for supporting the aging brain: exercise, learn a new skill that is challenging, and make sure you like the new skill.

    November 6, 2013

  • Bruce G.

    Excellent guest speakers!

    November 5, 2013

  • Margaret D.

    I look forward to learning how the elderly brain processes decisions. My clients must make life changing decisions everyday. I hope to learn how scientists are unlocking the "secrets of the aging mind" to better serve my clientele.

    October 27, 2013

  • Gene C.

    Sounds great! Wish I could join you. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend. My daughter is getting married the 7th. A lot of family stuff going on. See you next time.....

    October 14, 2013

  • Chris B.

    Wow! Such a great panel - can't wait to hear how best to keep my brain engaged. See everyone next month...

    October 11, 2013

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