The Vision & Cognition Laboratory is directed by Alice Cronin-Golomb, PhD.
Our principal research focus is on the neural correlates of perception, cognition, and other psychological functions in aging and age-related neurodegenerative disease. Our main methodology is behavioral and includes visual psychophysics, neuropsychological assessment, and sensory/cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging. A current emphasis is on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) (perception, cognition, mood, sleep) and their interaction with motor symptoms, including consideration of motor subtypes (e.g., body side of PD onset, type of symptom at onset). We engage in basic research and in the development of interventions to enhance quality of life. Dr. Cronin-Golomb also has a long-standing interest in perception and cognition in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Her work and that of her students is supported by the National Institute of Health, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, the Boston University Digital Health Initiative and Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy, and the Boston University Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Office, Affinity Research Collaborative (ARC).
What do we study?
Our primary research topics are listed below, along with the names of the students working on those projects. Individual lab members’ web pages provide more information on these and other student studies.
Parkinson’s disease (PD):
- Dual-tasking, cognition and walking in PD and stroke, and in healthy adults, using fNIRS: Rini Kaplan, Nishaat Mukadam, and Courtney Aul in collaboration with Drs. Terry Ellis and Swathi Kiran of Sargent College, David Boas and Meryem Yücel of Biomedical Engineering, and David Somers of Psychological and Brain Sciences; part of the larger project on the Neuroscience of the Everyday World.
- Quality of life and the experience of living with PD: Shraddha Kinger, Joshua Fox-Fuller, Rini Kaplan, Celina Pluim.
- Predicting visual hallucinations in PD using digital technology: Shraddha Kinger, in collaboration with Dr. Marie Saint-Hilaire, Cathi Thomas, R.N., and Dr. Daniel Fulford of Sargent College.
- Depression, gender, and stigma in PD: Dr. Ryan Piers, former student Dr. Rob Salazar, and former MA student Bridget Logan.
- Attentional training in PD: Dr. Ollie Barthelemy, Courtney Aul, Shraddha Kinger, in collaboration with Dr. Joe DeGutis, Boston VAMC , and Dr. Terry Ellis, Sargent College, BU, Center for Neurorehabilitation
Alzheimer’s Disease and Aging, Collaborative Studies:
- Colombian kindred cohort study of autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease: Joshua Fox-Fuller, Celina Pluim, Jairo Martinez. and Averi Giudicessi. Directed by Dr. Yakeel Quiroz, the Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Lab and the Multicultural Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital
- Sleep and circadian function in healthy older adults, individuals with subjective cognitive decline, and individuals with mild cognitive impairment: Celina Pluim. in collaboration with Dr. Yakeel Quiroz of MGH and Dr. Jeanne Duffy of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
- Stress and memory in older Latinos: Mathena Abramson, Jairo Martinez, Liana Mendes Santos in collaboration with Dr. Martha Tompson of BU and Dr. Yakeel Quiroz of MGH.
- Precision medicine for Alzheimer disease and related disorders. In collaboration with Dr. Rhoda Au and Dr. Lindsay Farrer, Boston University School of Medicine
Brain Stimulation to Improve Cognition in Aging:
- Using brain stimulation to improve working memory in older adults by restoring large-scale cortical interactions. Directed by Dr. Robert Reinhart, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, BU.
Who participates in our studies?
Primarily, our studies recruit individuals who have been diagnosed with one of the disorders or conditions listed above (for example, Parkinson’s disease) or healthy people of the same age group (usually aged 40 and older). These ‘control’ participants serve as an important reference, allowing us to know if test performance in our target population is, or is not, a normal aspect of growing older. We also do studies of healthy aging.
Help scientists better understand these conditions. Learn how you can participate in a study.
What have we learned so far in our studies?
Research from our laboratory has been presented at national and international professional conferences and published in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Previous media coverage of our studies. Our work has been featured by CBS News, Reuters Medical, CNN Medical News, Discoveries & Breakthroughs Inside Science (American Institute of Physics) syndicated science TV program, The Guardian (U.K.), the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and numerous other news media internationally. Here are some reports on our recent work in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease:
American Academy of Neurology podcast, December 2016. Effects of orthostatic hypotension on cognition in Parkinson disease, featuring our former student, Dr. Justin Centi, and the research he did in our lab.
MedScape article, December 15, 2016. Effects of orthostatic hypotension on cognition in Parkinson disease.
Faculti video, March 2016. Visual factors and cognitive capacities in age-related neurodegenerative disease, featuring Dr. Cronin-Golomb.
Neurology Reviews, July 2015: Environmental and behavioral interventions may alleviate nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Neurology Reviews, May 2015: Treatments for non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Aspen Senior Care article, March 2015, The Red Plate Study.
And some from our own BU websites:
Support for our studies
The lab is grateful for support from many sources, including the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, and Boston University’s Digital Health Initiative, Institute for Health System Innovation and Policy, Alzheimer Disease Center, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. We also acknowledge Boston University’s Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Office for supporting our Affinity Research Collaborative on Alzheimer’s disease.