Arthur Kramer

Professor, Department of Psychology
Director, Beckman Institute
B.A., SUNY at Stony Brook
M.A., Ph.D., University of Illinois

Cognitive Neuroscience with a special emphasis on cognitive and brain plasticity across the adult lifespan

The research in my laboratory focuses on several different topics. First, we are interested in understanding changes in various aspects of cognition, and the supporting brain structure and function, across the adult lifespan. For example, we have been examining the manner in which executive control processes (e.g. planning, sc.eduling, working memory, inhibition, task coordination) change from early to late adulthood and has discovered that contrary to the modal view changes in these processes are selective rather than general in nature. Furthermore, we have found substantial individual differences in the rate of change in these processes across the adult lifespan and is currently examining the source of these differences. Second, we are interested in interventions that can capitalize on the cognitive and brain plasticity of older adults in an effort to enhance cognitive vitality throughout the lifespan. To that end, we have conducted, and are in the process of conducting, a series of randomized clinical trials exploring the effects of aerobic fitness training and cognitive training on brain function and selective aspects of cognition of older adults. In recent cross-sectional and longitudinal studies we have discovered substantial sparing of selective regions of cortical gray and white matter for lifetime exercisers and have also observed that older individuals who are aerobically trained show interesting changes, potentially reflecting more efficient processing, in patterns of cortical activation (as reflected through fMRI), as they perform a series of cognitive tasks. Ongoing research is following up these intriguing findings and examining the influence of multi-task training on regional changes in patterns of brain activation of old and young adults. We are also interested in understanding how humans search for and extract critical details of the visual environment. To that end we have developed a number of novel paradigms, in collaboration with our colleagues at the University of Illinois and other universities, to examine issues such as the manner in which covert and overt (eye movements) attention are coordinated during visual search, the role and nature of memory processes during search in complex visual environments, and the manner in which humans construct and maintain representations of scenes as they move through complex environments. We have been examining these issues in both well controlled laboratory environments as well as in simulated real-world environments such as automobile driving (using the high fidelity driving simulator in the Beckman Institute) and in artificial environments created in Beckman Institutes six-sided CUBE. To these research questions, we and our colleagues bring to bear methodologies ranging from reaction time and accuracy, and simulation and mathematical modeling to neuroimaging techniques, such as event-related brain potentials and functional and anatomical MRI. Our research receives support from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Institute for the Study of Aging, General Motors Corporation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Collaborative Projects

Professor Neal Cohen - Aging and cognition

Professor Gregory Miller - Object recognition; allocation of visual spatial attention

Professors Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton - fMRI and optical imaging studies of aging

Professor Edward McAuley - Aging and fitness

Professors David Irwin and Daniel Simons - Perception, attention and scene representation

Professors Gary Dell, Kay Bock, and Susan Garnsey - Communication in complex dynamic environments

Professors Chuck Hillman - Fitness effects on brain development with children

Professors Simons, Gratton, Fabiani, Fu, Wang - Biomarkers of learning and transfer of new cognitive skills

Research Areas

Representative Publications

Chaddock, L., Erickson, K., Prakash, R., Kim, J.S., Voss, M., VanPatter, M., Pontifex, M., Raine, L., Konkel, A., Hillman, C. Cohen, N. & Kramer, A.F. (in press - 2010). A neuroimaging investigation of the association between aerobic fitness, hippocampal volume, and memory performance in preadolescent children. Brain Research.

Flicker, L., Ambrose, T.L. & Kramer, A.F. (in press- 2010). Why so negative about preventing cognitive decline and dementia? British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Pontifex, M.B., Raine, L.B., Johnson, C.R., Chaddock, L., Voss, M.W., Cohen, N.J., Kramer, A.F. & Hillman, C.H. (in press). Cardiorespiratory fitness and the flexible modulation of cognitive control in preadolescent children. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Erickson, K.I., Boot, W.R., Basak, C., Neider, M.R., Prakash, R.S., Voss, M.W., Graybiel, A.M., Simons, D.J., Fabiani, M., Gratton, G. & Kramer, A.F. (in press). Striatal volume predicts level of video game skill acquisition. Cerebral Cortex.

Voss, M. & Kramer, A.F., Prakash, R.S., Roberts, B., Basak, C., (in press). Are expert athletes “expert” in the cognitive laboratory? A meta-analytic review of basic attention and perception in sport expertise. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Chaddock, L., Erickson, K., Prakash, R., VanPatter, M., Voss, M., Pontifex, M., Raine, L., Hillman, C. & Kramer, A.F. (2010). Basal ganglia volume is associated with aerobic fitness in preadolescent children. Developmental Neuroscience, 32, 249-256.

Voss, M.W., Prakash, R., Erickson, K.I., Basak, C., Chaddock, L., Kim, J., Heo, S., White, S., Wojicicki, T., Mailey, E., Gothe, N., Olson, E., McAuley, E. & Kramer, A.F. (2010). Plasticity of brain networks in a randomized intervention trial of exercise training in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2, 1-17.

Voss, M.W., Ericjson, K.I., Prakash, R.S., Chaddock, L., Malkowski, E., Alves, H., Kim, J.S., Morris, K.S., White, S.M., Wojcicki, T.R., Hu. L., Szabo, A., Klamm, E., McAuley, E., Kramer, A.F. (2010) Functional connectivity: A source of variance in the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognition? Neuropsychologia, 48, 13943-1406.

Erickson, K.I., Voss, M.W., Prakash, R.S., Chaddock, L. & Kramer, A.F. (2010). A cross-sectional study of hormone treatment and hippocampal volume in postmenopausal women: Evidence for a limited window of opportunity. Neuropsychology, 24(1), 68-76.

Erickson, K.I., Prakash, R.S., Voss, M.W., Chaddock, L., Heo, S., McLaren, M., Pence, B.D., Martin, S.A., Vieira, V.L., Woods, J.A. & Kramer, A.F. (2010). BDNF is associated with age-related decline in hippocampal volume. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30 (15), 5368-5375.

Prakash, R.S., Snook, Motl, R.W. & Kramer, A.F. (2010). Aerobic Fitness is Associated with Gray Matter Volume and White Matter Integrity in Multiple Sclerosis. Brain Research, 1341,41-55.

Complete Publications List (PubMed)

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