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The Effect of Aging on Cross-Modal Sensory Processing

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The research project is designed to study cross-modal sensory processing in aging as it has been shown that all sensory systems exhibit diminished function with age and recent studies have suggested that the integration of information from multiple sensory modalities (cross-modal processing) is affected by normal aging, interestingly, many of the disabilities associated with aging that impact the quantity of life, such as increased fates, communication disturbances, and memory impairment may be associated with alterations of cross-modal processing. The Specific Aims for this project are purposely designed to identify behavioral and neural changes in cross-modal processing that occur with age. Neural responses will be measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Subjects will be studied during passive cross-modal stimulation, during a cross-modal matching task, and during a cross-modal integration task. Neural activation patterns and behavioral data will be analyzed to identify dysfunctional brain areas that correlate with diminished cross-modal processes. Because cross-modal processes are intimately involved in nearly all aspects of sensory processing and play critical roles in language processing, spatial orientation, and memory, a better understanding of changes that occur with age may help shed light on many of the problems experienced by aged individuals. The candidate has completed clinical (M.D,) and basic science (Ph.D.) training and has the desire to pursue a career in clinical research. The training program will include didactic instruction in statistics and statistical software programming. Through the guidance of his co-mentors, the candidate will master the skills necessary to perform scientific studies in patient populations. His goal is to combine the information acquired throughout his education to enable him to study diseases of the human brain as an independent investigator. The Wake Forest University School of Medicine is an environment that will allow the applicant to excel in the clinical neurosciences. The Department of Radiology has an active fMRl research program and is dedicated to expanding the neuroimaging research group. The J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation serves as the hub of research and teaching activities as well as a key location in the clinical treatment of elderly patients.
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