Ilana Bennett, Ph.D.

Most of us are familiar with the notion that our memory gets worse as we get older. But, in fact, not all forms of memory decline with age. And it’s not just about aging. Across the lifespan, there are some adults who have worse memory than their peers. My research focuses on cortical disconnection as a mechanism to explain these individual- and age-related differences in memory. According to this model, degradation of white matter is thought to account for cognitive declines associated with aging. White matter is a critical, yet relatively understudied, part of our brain. It provides the structural framework by which gray matter regions communicate and coordinate their processing. In my lab, we use a combination of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to characterize the effect of aging on white matter and to determine whether white matter aging accounts for age-related differences in learning and memory performance.


Christine Chiarello, Ph.D.

Our lab is primarily interested in individual differences in brain structure. One current project is understanding how the bilingual brain differs from the monolingual brain. We examine changes in brain structure that are associated with variations in a person’s language experience, particularly whether they speak just one or multiple languages. We use neuroimaging techniques (MRI, DTI) to address this issue. We are also interested in whether these brain alterations associated with bilingualism might also be related to differences in memory and thinking, and how these abilities might change over the adult lifespan. In studying this topic, we hope to gain further insight into whether bilingualism provides protection for both brain and behavior against aging-related deficits.


Aaron Seitz, Ph.D.

A central issue in neuroscience is how the brain selectively adapts to important environmental changes. While the brain needs to adapt to new environments, its architecture has to be protected from modification due to continual bombardment of undesirable information. Clarifying how the brain solves this so-called stability-plasticity dilemma in its sensory areas is the primary goal of my research.


Chandra Reynolds, Ph.D.

My primary research focuses on how and why individuals differ from one another in health and cognition across development. Multiple projects in my lab address the following general questions, with attention to longitudinal models and methods. The two main questions we focus on are:

  • Why do some individuals show rapid decline in cognitive functioning with age while others remain stable or decline relatively less?
  • What early life and life-course factors are important to cognitive maintenance, health and longevity?


Rachel Wu, Ph.D.

My research investigates how we learn from infancy to older adulthood. Our goal is to better understand cognitive development and cognitive aging and to use cognitive development strategies to help people maximize their potential for learning new skills at any age. We use neural (EEG) and behavioral (eye-tracking, accuracy/reaction time) responses to investigate how infants and adults differ in their approaches to finding and learning about relevant information. Our research program has two components: 1) measuring adults’ use of previously acquired knowledge and tracking the development of this ability from infancy, and 2) applying infant and child learning strategies to mitigate cognitive decline during aging. Using infant learning to inform adult learning and vice versa has the greatest promise to lead to discoveries about optimal learning strategies that can be applied throughout the lifespan.


  • CALLA Phase 1: Investigating how broad learning is related to cognitive abilities

Weiwei Zhang, Ph.D.

The human mind continuously develops over the course of life span. For instance, several core mental constructs and processes gradually improve in childhood and then declines after adulthood as a function of age. The research program in our lab focuses on understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms supporting these mental abilities and their changes (such as blurry memories) with age, which can subsequently facilitate development of neurocognitive enhancement and intervention. Multiple Cognitive Neuroscience methods and approaches are used in our research, including behavioral, eye tracking, functional neuroimaging (EEG and MRI), non-invasive brain stimulation, computational modeling, neuropsychological, and translational research.


  • Blurred memories in aging brain