Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging

Improving our understanding of age-related cognitive decline

The Problem
With a rapidly growing aged population, maintaining cognitive function is critical for the health and well-being of U.S. citizens. Roughly 87% of people age 65 and older may experience cognitive changes due to the normal aging process.
The Solution
Improving our understanding of age-related cognitive decline can lead to interventions and treatments that may delay or prevent brain aging, contributing to better quality of life for older adults.

Overview

Focused on better understanding and, eventually, moderating age-related memory loss, the Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging, a 15-year long collaboration between the McKnight Brain Research Foundation (MBRF) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), is coordinated by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH).

In 2021, NIA awarded two major research grants, funded jointly by NIA and the MBRF, to establish a network to identify, evaluate, track and conduct research across multiple sites on older adults with superior cognitive performance for their age. Although these “cognitive super agers” are believed to constitute a very small minority of older individuals, they represent an unparalleled resource in which to study the behavioral, environmental, health, neural and genetic profiles that lead to sustained cognitive and brain function in advanced age. Conducted over a five-year period, this research is expected to reveal important information about the factors that are critical for maintenance of cognitive function, as well as the factors that do not figure prominently.

Other initiatives made possible by the Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging include:

  • Plasticity and Mechanisms of Cognitive Remediation in Older Adults, a five-year NIH grant awarded in 2014 that supported a multicenter clinical research trial on remediating age-related cognitive decline through mindfulness-based stress reduction and exercise.
  • 17 awards made in 2009 to support research on neural and behavioral profiles of cognitive function in aging and interventions to remediate age-related cognitive decline.
  • Three Cognitive Aging Summits, the most recent of which brought together a multidisciplinary group of investigators to consider age-related cognitive decline, as well as cognitive reserve and resilience.
Cognitive Aging
This partnership helps accelerate discovery of the causes and risk factors associated with disease and disability among older adults, and opens new paths for discoveries and improved brain health for our aging population.

Partners

Public-Sector Partners

  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Private-Sector Partners

  • McKnight Brain Research Foundation

FNIH Contact