Brain network aging across time and space
Dr. Gagan Wig, Associate Professor, Center for Vital Longevity and School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas
Influential models of human brain aging have invoked concepts related to brain networks in order to help explain age-accompanied cognitive decline. Network science offers a formal language and analytic framework for describing patterns of brain connectivity, whereby the brain can be treated as a network of interacting regions. I will highlight efforts from my lab that have incorporated tools from this rapidly growing science to further our understanding of how the brain’s large-scale network organization changes across human adult lifespan, and how these brain network changes relate to an individual’s cognitive ability and brain function. In addition, I will describe the more recent efforts from my lab which are beginning to reveal both the moderating role of an individual’s environment (defined by their socioeconomic status) on their trajectory of brain network decline during adulthood, and the long-term clinical impacts of this decline. Collectively, these observations are offering a new perspective towards understanding healthy and pathological aging, and highlight a path for discovering vulnerabilities of brain aging that are linked to an individual’s past and present environmental exposures.