September 12, 2023

Psychology Faculty Helping to Further ADRC's Collaborative Research

Close up of people holding hands

The Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Research Center (ADRC) at USU is at the forefront of groundbreaking research aimed at understanding and combatting dementia and related disorders. Innovative research on Alzheimer’s disease is the center’s primary focus as it moves into its second year, according to ADRC director Dr. Beth Fauth, a professor in Human Development and Family Studies at USU.

There are currently 15 faculty members at USU from a variety of disciplines who are actively affiliated with the center; eight of these faculty members are from the Psychology department. Each researcher is focusing on a unique facet of these diseases as they work to continue to understand and support resources for individuals living with dementia.

Among the many projects being worked on by the ADRC, Dr. Kerry Jordan, an associate professor in the Brain and Cognition specialization, is conducting a project called “Aging and Numerical Quantity Estimation.” This project is building on previous research and looks into the relationship between aging and numerical cognition. Jordan will be working with research assistant Olivia Ewing, a graduate student from the Neuroscience program, to research if aging individuals maintain more precise numerical representation of number as exhibited by young adults or if they revert to a more approximate, child-like pattern. "This project allows me to explore a specific dimension of numerical cognition within my population of interest" said Ewing. "This work is important to me as it should give me more insight into the cognitive effects of aging, while also expanding my capabilities as a researcher. I believe the effects of aging is an area of research that is much needed as aging populations continue to increase. I am so excited to be working with the ADRC, as it is an organization that aligns so strongly with my research interests. I am grateful for the opportunities and resources that working with the ADRC will provide!" 

Another project is led by Dr. Mona Buhusi, an associate professor from the Neuroscience program. Buhusi is working with Madison Treasure-Areno, a current applicant for the Brain and Cognition PhD program, to study how brain cells communicate and how this communication is altered in Alzheimer’s disease and normal aging. Buhusi’s lab studies brain pathology and cognitive impairments seen in human Alzheimer’s disease through the use of mice. Buhusi’s research has shown that certain drugs can impact the ability of older mice to learn and remember mazes. Through these trials, Buhusi and her research team hope to contribute to the identification of ways to slow down Alzheimer’s disease and preserve cognitive abilities for a longer period of time. Read more about Dr. Buhusi’s work.

There are also several ongoing research opportunities at the ADRC, one of those being titled, "Assessing a self-guided online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy program for dementia caregivers." Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an action-oriented therapy method focused on the acceptance of thoughts and feeling and commitment to act in ways that align with personal values. Two faculty members from the psychology department, Dr. Michael Levin and Dr. Michael Twohig are the co-directors of the USU ACT Research group and are passionate about ACT therapy programs and making those more accessible. 

Dr. Catalin Buhusi, Dr. Maria Kleinstaeuber, JoAnn Tschanz, and many more members of the department are working to further the ADRC's collaborative research efforts to push forward dementia and Alzheimer’s research to help better support those living with dementia and provide resources for caretakers. We are looking forward to the future of the ADRC and the ways that our faculty and department can support future research.

Learn more about the work faculty members are doing with ADRC.