Our Mission Our Lab
Our mission is to identify and evaluate factors that promote healthy age-related cognitive changes, serve as early indicators of cognitive decline, and reduce the risk of developing dementia.
These aims are achieved through large-scale observational data collection studies and interventions. The Healthy Cognitive Aging Lab is part of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Colorado State University.
Healthy Cognitive Aging Lab Current Research Projects
Using Cognitive Intraindividual Variability to Measure Interventions
Dr. Bielak is the principal investigator on two grants from the National Institutes of Health and National Institutes on Aging. She will be conducting secondary data analyses on completed interventions designed to improve cognitive functioning amongst healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment. Specifically, she will be evaluating if cognitive intra-individual variability or inconsistency changed as a result of the intervention.
Brydges, C. R., & Bielak, A. A. M. (in press). The impact of a sustained cognitive engagement intervention on cognitive variability: The Synapse Project. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. Advance online publication 2019. doi: 10.1007/s41465-019-00140-9
Bielak, A. A. M., & Brydges, C. R. (2019). Can intra-individual variability in cognitive speed be reduced by physical exercise? Results from the LIFE Study. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 74, 1335-1344. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gby101
Recording Everyday Activity and Cognition on Tablets Study
Activity participation is typically assessed by asking the participant to generalize over a long timeframe, for example how often in the past two years they played cards or visited the museum. The aim of the REACT study is to evaluate the day-to-day link between activity participation and cognitive ability. The tablets will prompt participants to complete an activity survey and cognitive tests multiple times per day. This format will also allow us to evaluate the feasibility of momentary assessment for activity participation.
TV Pilot Intervention
Watching television and movies are not particularly stimulating cognitive activities. Further, time spent in front of the screen is time that could be better spent participating in activities that we know are good for one’s health, including reading, chatting with a friend, or having a walk in the park. This pilot intervention aims to discover if cognitive and physical changes are possible when an older adult reduces their time watching television and movies.
Activity Characteristics and Cognition Study
The popular belief that participating in activities like crossword puzzles, dinner with friends, and walking affects cognitive abilities in older adulthood is not entirely true. Some research studies find that being active is related to having a better memory and faster reaction time, but other studies find no link at all. These conflicting findings may be due to the way activity participation is measured. The Activity Characteristics Questionnaire will measure the activities of adults. This study will compare different ways of measuring activity participation. We hope to learn which method shows a closer link to abilities like memory and reasoning in older age. This project is a collaboration with Dr. Jacqueline Mogle and Dr. Martin Sliwinski at Penn State University. We are grateful for the use of the facilities at the Fort Collins Senior Center.
Bielak, A. A. M., Mogle, J. A., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2019). Two sides of the same coin? Association of variety and frequency of activity with cognition. Psychology and Aging, 34, 457-466. doi: 10.1037/pag0000350
Bielak, A. A. M., Mogle, J., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2019). What did you do today? Variability in daily activities is related to variability in daily cognitive performance. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 74, 764-771. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx145
Bielak, A. A. M. (2017). Different perspectives on measuring lifestyle engagement: A comparison of activity measures and their relation with cognitive performance in older adults. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 4, 435-452. doi: 10.1080/13825585.2016.1221378
Witt, J. K., Tenhundfeld, N. L., & Bielak, A. A. M. (2017). Dissociating perception from judgment in the action-specific effect of blocking ease on perceived speed. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 79, 283-297. doi: 10.3758/s13414-016-1222-4
Already Active Adults Study
This 12-week intervention study aims to find out if cognitive and physical health increases when a person spends more time doing a familiar activity such as solving puzzles and/or walking. At the completion of the study, we hope to be able to give older adults recommendations about how they can improve their own health. This project is a collaboration with Mrs. Kellie Walters in the Department of Health and Exercise Science and is funded by the College of Health and Human Sciences at Colorado State University.