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Notice Number: NOT-AG-08-001
Release Date: March 27, 2008
National Institute on Aging (NIA), (http://www.nia.nih.gov)
The purpose of this Notice is to announce and to seek public comment on the NIA’s intention to issue Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) in mid to late 2008 to (1) establish neural and behavioral profiles of cognitive aging and (2) to explore interventions for prevention, reduction, or reversal of age-related cognitive decline.
Most people experience some deterioration in cognitive function as they age. At the recent Cognitive Aging Summit
(http://www.nia.nih.gov/ResearchInformation/ExtramuralPrograms/NeuroscienceOfAging/NNA_Conferences/cognitivesummit.htm), current knowledge on age-related changes in cognition and brain function was highlighted and current knowledge gaps and opportunities for research were identified. Perhaps foremost among the identified challenges and gaps were the stated need to develop “gold standard” profiles for brain health and cognitive function across the lifespan and the needs to discover interventions that might prevent, reduce, or reverse the course of age-related cognitive decline.
It might seem reasonable to assume that a healthy older brain should look like a younger brain, but existing research indicates that maintenance of brain health and cognitive function with age may require adaptive processes that differ from those seen in younger individuals, at least for certain cognitive domains and the brain regions that support them. It is not clear, however, if these changes truly represent positive compensatory mechanisms or whether they simply reflect the aging process. The development of neural and behavioral profiles for brain health and cognitive function in the older adult is a critical need in order to advance our understanding and to inform many other areas of research. We have made progress in our goal to distinguish healthy from unhealthy cognitive aging, but the data has largely been generated by looking at the extremes of the continuum. For example, we are not yet able to distinguish individuals who may be developing Alzheimer’s disease but are presymptomatic from those who will not go on to develop the disease. Better differentiation of these individuals while living and a better understanding of how different pathologies and age-related changes contribute to decline in specific behavioral functions are crucially important for rational development of therapeutics.
A second need is for a coordinated research program to develop new, more effective interventions and to identify which treatments or combination of treatments would be most effective for maintaining cognitive health in the long-term. Although many interventions have positive effects on memory and cognition, the underlying mechanisms for these treatments are unclear and there is considerable uncertainty about why some individuals do or do not respond to specific interventions. New analytic strategies offer the promise of being able to target interventions to individuals, significantly enhancing efficacy and efficiency. An equally important and complementary need is the determination of the most cost effective method(s) of introducing these interventions and facilitating adherence and therefore maintenance of cognitive improvements.
With this Notice, NIA seeks public comments on these concepts and the available capacity, resources and networks for advancing these proposed areas of research.
APPLICATIONS ARE NOT BEING SOLICITED AT THIS TIME.
Please send comments by April 30, 2008 to: NIARFIcomments@mail.nih.gov
Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices
Office of Extramural
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
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