Pathways To Brain Health For African Americans: A Community-Based Participatory Research Study

Project Details


The proposed studies will use community-based participatory research methods to investigate (1) therelative contributions of different modifiable health and lifestyle factors to age-related cognitive decline inAfrican Americans, and (2) identify early predictors of cognitive decline and conversion to aMCI and AD, andunderstand how the health and lifestyle behaviors influence risk for subsequent cognitive decline. Older AfricanAmericans are at elevated risk for age-related cognitive decline and memory loss, being twice as likely todevelop Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) as white Americans. While this may be due to various modifiable health andlifestyle factors, little is known about their relative importance (and interactions) specifically for AfricanAmericans. To investigate these questions, the proposed work will involve partnerships with churches, seniorcenters, public housing, the African-American community of Newark, and the State of New Jersey. We will recruit 240 African Americans age 55 and above, who will be tested at two time points, once atbaseline and two years later. Half of these participants (120) will receive brain imaging (structural, resting stateand diffusion tensor) and a third of the participants (80) will participate in a one-week home-based monitoringof sleep, activity, and movement. The initial cross-sectional analysis (Aim 1) will characterize the behavioral,biological, and physical correlates of brain health, in order to understand the relative contributions of differentmodifiable health and lifestyle factors (stress, sleep deprivation, sedentary lifestyles, poor cardiovascularfitness, depressive symptoms, high body mass), education, social support and genetics, to age-relatedcognitive decline in African Americans. This will lead up to the longitudinal analysis (Aim 2) will determine thecognitive assessments and underlying brain changes that differentiate normal aging, aMCI, and AD and howthese changes are modulated by health and lifestyle factors, education and genetics. Overall, there is a dearth of data on the various factors which influence individual differences in cognitiveresilience among older African Americans, especially for those living on low incomes and in public housing.Our study attempts to resolve this issue by examining the cognitive, neural, and lifestyle factors associatedwith cognitive resilience and, conversely, those that predict early cognitive decline in older African Americans.
Effective start/end date9/15/168/31/18


  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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