Margaret Mahan, a Ph.D. student at the U of M, believes a better understanding of the brain throughout the lifespan is especially valuable to the aging population with potential application worldwide.

Like any other organ of the body, the brain needs to be assessed to evaluate its status.

However, a comprehensive evaluation of brain structure and function is currently impossible, mainly due to the lack of rigorous, effective and efficient ways to combine diverse information from various tests and measurements and reduce it to simple and meaningful measures of brain status. Such measures, together with cognitive performance, would lead to an integrative assessment of brain and cognition of significant practical value.

The healthy brain project taking place at the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, aims to acquire comprehensive, multimodal data to derive composite descriptors of brain status and associate them with cognitive, language and genetic information.  Specifically, variations of MRI data, resting Magnetoencephalography (MEG) for fine grain measure of neural communication, blood for DNA, Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and the assessment of spoken speech and language are acquired.

The project design, led by Apostolos Georgopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Regents Professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Neuroscience, collects data from many subjects and restudies subjects each year.  The goal is to add 100 new subjects per year plus 100 from each prior year. Dr. Georgopoulos directs a team of more than 15 people in the recruiting, screening, testing and interpretation of subjects involved in the healthy brain project.

So what does the project aim to do?

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