Dr. Pierfilippo De Sanctis
Project Director, Cognitive Aging
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- I use high-density scalp Event-Related-Potentials, EEG oscillatory activity, fMRI, neuropsychological assessment, and behavioral measures to investigate the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying cognitive processes and their alternation in Aging and Schizophrenia.
- Most of the research on aging looks at cognitive decline. Less work is done on elderly that age successfully. My interest focuses on elderly who show no or minimal decline, compared to their young counterparts. I think that a better understanding about successful aging can help in the development of preventive measures to slow down cognitive decline in elderly.
Elderly people have a hard time with multi tasking, which is the type of task I use – the so called switching task. Their flexibility to switch rapidly and efficiently between mental activities and adjust their behavior accordingly is often diminished. Comparing high- and average-performing elderly with EEG and fMRI allows me to uncover functional plasticity in advanced age.
- I am also interested in inhibitory control deficits in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Inhibitory control is our ability to suppress inappropriate thoughts and actions. One central question is about how emotions modulate neural activity related to inhibitory control in schizophrenic patients with and without a history of violence. It is well established that emotionally charged situations affect our behavior. We have reason to believe that patients with a history of violence gain from an emotionally charged situation such that cortical circuitry related to inhibitory control are reinstated, allowing them to exert improved control over their behavior.