Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience

Naftali Raz, PhDCognitive Neuroscience Program Director – LAB: Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging Lab
Jessica Damoiseaux, PhD  ConnectLab: Brain Connectivity and Aging
Ana Daugherty, PhD  Healthy Aging Lab: healthyaging.wayne.edu
Voyko Kavcic, PhD Cognitive Neuroscience – ELECTRA Study
Noa Ofen, PhD – LAB: Cognitive and Brain Development



AGING & ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE

Naftali Raz, PhD, Director, Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience
Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging Lab
Dr. Raz, a professor of psychology and director of the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience Research Program, is one of the world's leading experts on cognitive neuroscience of aging. His career has been devoted to learning how and why the brain changes with age, how those changes affect the way we think and behave, and how vascular and metabolic risk factors such as hypertension, blood sugar levels and inflammation influence the lifespan development.  Dr. Raz has established close collaborations with his colleagues in Europe, especially the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin where he holds a joint appointment as a research scientist.

Dr. Raz's research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging since 1993. In addition to his main longitudinal study, Dr. Raz is collaborating with his colleague in the School of Medicine, Dr. Jeff Stanley on investigating the role of brain glutamate modulation and energy metabolism in age-related differences in learning and memory. Dr. Raz hopes that his research will help to identify the predictors of successful aging as well as reliable early signs of transition from normal late-life development to age-related cognitive pathology, such as Alzheimer's disease.


Jessica Damoiseaux, PhD – Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience 

Dr. Damoiseaux was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2020. She is an expert in the cognitive neuroscience of aging and Alzheimer's disease. Her work examines the impact of aging and Alzheimer's disease on cognitive performance and brain structure and function. The main goal of her research is to detect early brain changes that predict future cognitive decline. Dr. Damoiseaux is currently working on several projects that examine longitudinal changes in brain structure and function related to the risk factors of cognitive decline, including vascular and genetic risk, and subjective perception of cognitive functioning. Her research has been funded through the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center, and the National Institutes of Health.

She collaborates with Dr. Neha Gothe at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on an NIH-funded intervention study to examine yoga's impact on the brain and cognition. Their previous work appeared in Scientific American (pdf) among other national news outlets. Dr. Damoiseaux is also a co-investigator for the NIH-funded Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, a collaboration between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. She will be contributing to the Neuroimaging core of this research center.

Dr. Damoiseaux publishes her research in international journals and presents at national and international conferences. One of her recent papers showed that older persons who report declines in cognition (with no clinical diagnosis) may also be experiencing measurable changes in brain connectivity. She currently serves on Council of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (the main international brain imaging conference). Dr. Damoiseaux teaches in WSU's Department of Psychology and the Translational Neuroscience Program, and currently advises three graduate students and two post-doctoral fellows.


Ana Daugherty, PhD  Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience

Dr. Daugherty is jointly appointed to the IOG and Department of Psychology, and directs the Healthy Brain Aging laboratory. She studies vascular and metabolic health that affects brain aging, risk factors (like hypertension) and protective factors (like exercise) that shape individual cognitive aging and modify risk for dementia. In  this pursuit, she uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain structure, different types of cognitive and behavioral testing, actigraphy to measure exercise activity, blood markers of vascular health, and advanced statistical analysis for multivariate, longitudinal study. Her work is motivated by the goal to inform older adults on lifestyle strategies that can promote cognitive health and reduce health disparities in aging.

She serves in the Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and is on the leadership committee of the Hippocampal Subfield Group. The group is a collaboration of more than 200 researchers from 15 countries dedicated to developing and validating MRI methods to measure hippocampal subfields, which atrophy in aging and Alzheimer's disease. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Daugherty was a site lead in the "Connecting Seniors" program to deliver tech-enabled healthcare to 4,000 low-income seniors in metro Detroit.  Connecting Seniors was a partnership with the United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Connect 313 funded through a $3.9 million CARES Act grant from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities Rapid Response Initiative.


Voyko Kavcic, PhD
Cognitive Neuroscience

Dr. Kavcic investigates how advanced age and/or neurodegenerative diseases (primarily Alzheimer's disease), affect cerebral structures and functions.  His research looks for converging experimental evidence from a variety of methodological approaches, including self-evaluation of cognitive abilities, paper/pencil and computerized neuropsychological testing, human psychophysics, baseline electroencephalography, event-related potentials, and MRI diffusion tensor imaging.

He is principal investigator of the R01 Grant, "Community-based approach to early identification of transitions to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's Disease" also known as ELECTRA. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck and in-person data collection had to be suspended, he switched to a phone-based investigation into the impact of Covid on his study participants (pdf). His research searches for economically viable and culturally acceptable methods of early detection of MCI or Alzheimer's in healthy older minority adults.  ELECTRA uses computerized cognitive tests and recordings of electroencephalographic signals to better characterize MCI in African Americans. ELECTRA is now resuming in-person testing under strict health and safety protocols to protect against Covid-19 transmission. Learn the details of the ELECTRA study. (pdf)


  Noa Ofen, PhD – Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology

Dr. Ofen is the director of the Cognitive and Brain Development Laboratory. She investigates structural and functional brain development across a wide age range of typically developing children and adults. Her research combines cognitive ability testing with a range of neuroimaging techniques, including MRI and electrophysiology, to elucidate the mechanisms contributing to human episodic memory development. The aim is to characterize how changes in the functional and structural organization of the brain support growth in the human capacity to encode, maintain and retrieve information.

Dr. Ofen also investigates environmental and genetic factors that may modify typical development and is interested in the possible implications of her work for clinical populations such as children with epilepsy. Her primary research project is funded by a five-year research award from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Ofen is also on the faculty of the Translational Neuroscience Program at the School of Medicine. She regularly collaborates with faculty in the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience Program, a joint initiative between the IOG and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development.


ADJUNCT FACULTY

John Woodard, PhD – Neuropsychology of Aging