Current Projects

Cognition in Older Adults

Through a partnership with the Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, we are exploring predictors of cognitive change in cognitively healthy older adults and individuals with mild cognitive impairment. We also collaborate in this area with researchers in the Adult Development and Aging Laboratory led by Dr. Katie Cherry. These projects include:

  • Assessing the relationship between sleep and various aspects of functioning in older adults, including cognition and gait.
  • Exploring associations between psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, and cognitive performance in older adults.
  • Examining cognitive variability in various cognitive domains as a predictor of cognitive status and conversion to dementia.
  • Examining which health and psychological symptoms impact rates of cognitive variability in a sample of cognitively healthy adults.
  • Examining the ability of using specific memory scores on list-learning tasks to predict future cognitive decline.
  • Exploring associations between cardiovascular health and cognition in older adults.
  • Examining the impact of natural disaster on health, well-being, and cognition in adults and older adults.
  • Examining discrepancies in informant and subject report of daily functioning in healthy older adults and those with MCI
  • Exploring how factors known to be associated with cognitive function predict functional changes in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
  • Examining the benefit of a brief memory screening program to community dwelling older adults.

ADHD and Executive Functioning

We are conducting studies on campus to study Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and executive functioning in the college student population. These efforts include on-campus recruitment of undergraduate participants as part of a multisite study, as well as a collaboration with the C-NAPS Lab led by Dr. Steven Greening. These studies are:

  • Evaluating the influences of personality traits on executive functioning.
  • Examining associations between self-reported and performance-based executive functioning measures in individuals with ADHD and other psychological symptoms.
  • Exploring the role of functional connectivity during resting state and their association with executive functioning processes.

Psychometrics and Neuropsychological Tests

We are conducting studies looking at the psychometric properties of popular neuropsychological tests. Some of this research involves using archival clinical data from the Psychological Services Center and Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group. Current projects include:

  • Examining associations between measures of noncredible performance and self-report in clinical and forensic settings.
  • Examining the role of practice effects on neuropsychological tests of attention.
  • Examining rates of failure on stand-alone and embedded performance-based validity measures.
  • Exploring the validity of existing neuropsychological measures in diverse clinical samples.
  • Exploring the relationship between serial position effects and cognitive performance in a diverse clinical sample.
  • Comparing the predictive validity of multiple measures of everyday function in older adults with and without cognitive impairment.
  • Exploring the relationship between self-report measures of executive function and executive function tasks in older adults.
  • Examining whether different methods of scoring a measure of attention can impact the relationship with other cognitive domains.

Technology and Assessment

Technology plays an ever-increasing role in modern functional and neuropsychological assessment. Our lab is actively involved in a number of research studies aimed at creating and validating computerized tools for use within a variety of clinical populations. Collaborations in this area include with Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Computational Neuropsychology and Simulation Lab at the University of North Texas led by Dr. Thomas Parsons. These include:

  • A contract with the Keller-Lamar Health Foundation to investigate the reliability and validity of a new web-based measure of cognition and psychological symptoms in older adults with varying levels of cognitive and functional impairment.
  • Examining the test-retest reliability and practice effects of a novel virtual reality measure of memory and executive function in younger and older adults.
  • Examining the use of wearable technology to assess a multi-method intervention in individuals with moderate-to-severe dementia on a memory care unit.
  • Examining the effectiveness of incorporating a non-immersive virtual reality paradigm into functional rehabilitation for older adults with moderate cognitive impairment

Ethnoracial Disparities in Cognitive Aging

We are conducting studies examining ethnic and racial disparities in cognitive aging. Collaborations in this area include Dr. Robert Newton at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Current projects include:

  • Examining racial differences in the association between trauma symptoms and their impact on cognitive and everyday function. 
  • Qualitative analysis of focus group data to examine older African American adults’ attitudes and beliefs toward dementia.
  • Examining the effects of an exercise intervention on depressive symptomatology in elderly African Americans.
  • Evaluating the utility of a novel cognitive screening measure in a diverse sample of older adults.
  • Examining social factors that predict cognitive decline in elderly African Americans.
  • Examining minority representation in neuropsychological research.
  • Examining the influence of life course factors on late life cognition in older African American Adults.

Psychological Symptoms and Cognitive Function

We are conducting studies on campus to examine the relationship between cognitive function and different psychopathological symptoms and processes in the college student population. These efforts include on-campus recruitment of undergraduate participants through the Psychology department’s research participant pool (SONA).

  • Examining how anxiety and worry impacts cognitive functioning in young adults.
  • Exploring the relationship between perfectionism and speed/accuracy on computerized neuropsychological assessments in young adults.