March 17, 2011 – (BRONX, NY) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.4 million grant to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, both affiliated with Yeshiva University, to identify cognitive factors that influence mobility in older people – in particular, those that could be modified to help older people remain active.
Roee Holtzer, Ph.D.“Mobility limitations and disability in aging are major public health concerns,” said Roee Holtzer, Ph.D., principal investigator for the study and associate professor in the Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology at Einstein and associate professor of psychology at Ferkauf. “We will recruit 450 people age 70 and older for baseline and annual follow-ups over the five-year study period.”
Participants enrolled in the National Institute on Aging grant will undergo clinical, neuropsychological and physical exams as well as state-of-the art cognitive and neuroimaging assessments. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technology, developed by the optical engineering group at Drexel University, will be used to assess changes in brain function during various walking conditions. “Ideally, these assessments will reveal specific cognitive abilities and brain structures and functions that correlate with mobility problems or that predict their occurrence,” said Dr. Holtzer. “Then we want to see whether efforts to modify those factors, which include the ability to concentrate and allocate attention resources to competing task demands, can help in preventing mobility decline and disability in these individuals.”
The project, which began in March, is an interdisciplinary collaboration involving Einstein’s neurology and epidemiology & population health departments and its Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center; Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; and the optical engineering group at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA.