Aging Brain Initiative Seminar with Randy Buckner, PhD, "Precision Measurement of Brain Change Within Older Individuals"

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Building 46, 46-3310, Picower Seminar Room
43 VASSAR ST, Cambridge, MA 02139

Aging Brain Initiative Seminar with Randy Buckner, PhD, Harvard University, MGH

Tuesday, February 27 at 4:00pm | 46-3310, Picower Seminar Room

Talk Title: Precision Measurement of Brain Change Within Older Individuals

Abstract: Two individuals can look quite similar entering retirement yet progress from that point on with dramatically different paths. One person might maintain a high level of function into their ninth and tenth decades while the other declines rapidly with dementia. How can we predict who will decline and how can we measure progression? And, moving forward, how can we measure change in the brain in ways that will allow us to monitor whether an intervention is having the desired effect on the individual being treated? In this talk I will present our recent efforts to enable precision within-individual measurement of neurodegeneration and maintenance. Three distinct strategies are involved: (1) identifying multiple markers that inform relevant brain changes from large-scale datasets including the UK Biobank and ADNI, (2) developing extremely rapid low-burden protocols to measure these markers, including adoption of compressed sensing techniques able to acquire high-resolution brain scans in under a minute, and (3) repeating the measurements many times within individuals to increase precision. We have found that we can measure brain change within individuals in one year with considerable variation across individuals. Next steps in this translational research program will involve pairing protocols that measure brain change to those affording repeat, intensive study of cognition as well as repeat sampling of blood plasma biomarkers. 

Bio: Dr. Buckner is Sosland Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Harvard University and affiliated with the Center for Brain Science.  He is also Professor at the Harvard Medical School and the Director for Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he is faculty within the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. He received his Ph.D. degree in neuroscience from Washington University, under the direction of Steven Petersen and Marcus Raichle.  He trained with Bruce Rosen as a postdoctoral fellow and then Instructor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, where he pioneered new functional MRI methods to study human memory.  His work then expanded to include studies of Alzheimer's disease and neuropsychiatric illness with a focus on developing biomarkers for disease detection and progression. He also developed widely used neuroinformatics tools to facilitate open data sharing across the neuroimaging community. Professor Buckner’s awards include the Wiley Young Investigator Award from the Organization of Human Brain Mapping, the Young Investigator Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, and the Award for Medical Research in Alzheimer’s Disease from the MetLife Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the Aging Brain Initiative

This interdisciplinary research effort pulls together faculty expertise, knowledge, and technical resources from across MIT to solve the mysteries of the aging brain. It spans neuroscience, fundamental biology and genetics, investigative medicine, engineering and computer science, economics, chemistry, urban planning, and artificial intelligence to enable a comprehensive systems approach. What's the ultimate mission? To deliver the basic research that makes possible new tools to address the challenges of brain aging and create a better future for millions. To learn more visit:

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