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2007 Grant - Barnes
Stress, Inflammatory Markers and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
Lisa L. Barnes, Ph.D.
Rush University Medical Center
2007 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Studies have demonstrated substantial differences in cognition between populations of older blacks and older whites. It is well documented that older blacks score lower than whites on a variety of cognitive performance tests, even after controlling for differences in years of formal education. There is also research that shows that inflammation may be linked to the development of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's, both of which may be more prevalent among blacks. At the same time, some types of stress may cause an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline in whites.
Dr. Lisa L. Barnes, Ph.D., and colleagues will look at both genetic inflam-matory markers and external stresses that may lead to racial differences in cognition. Relatively little is known about whether stress causes cognitive decline in blacks, and the researcher knows of no studies that have looked at whether those inflammatory markers control the relationship between stress and cognitive decline. The researcher will examine biological markers and external stresses to see their impact on cognitive decline in blacks and whites.
The results could have important implications for reducing racial disparities in cognition, as well as increasing our understanding of the factors that lead to those disparities.