Research

Below is a list of research projects currently being conducted by local universities and other groups. To add to this list, please contact AustinUP at info@austinup.org.

The University of Texas at Austin

Texas Aging & Longevity Center

Founded in 2018, the core mission of the UT Texas Aging & Longevity Center (TALC) is to enhance the longevity and well-being of the aging population. Here is a list of TALC’s Aging Research Projects, featuring research led by Dr. Karen Fingerman (TALC director), Dr. Jacqueline Angel and others. Additional research related to aging is conducted in the Human Development and Family Sciences Department at the University of Texas at Austin.

Adult Family Project
Family Exchanges Study
Daily Experiences in Late Life Study

Dr. Karen Fingerman is a professor of Human Development & Family Sciences and is the director of the Texas Aging & Longevity Center at UT Austin. She has published over 150 scholarly articles, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has funded her work for more than 20 years.

One of Dr. Fingerman’s recent projects, the Adult Family Project, focuses on adults’ relationships with their parents, spouses, grown children, romantic partners, friends and other social partners across adulthood and into old age. Researchers are looking at how relationships with family members, friends and acquaintances change from young adulthood to old age. This research has drawn on survey methods, observational studies, experimental paradigms, daily diary and salivary hormone data collection techniques.

Dr. Fingerman also directed a longitudinal study involving middle-aged adults, their romantic partners, grown children and aging parents funded by the National Institute on Aging. This study examined relationships between young adults, midlife parents and an aging older generation. Over 50 papers have identified the strength of intergenerational bonds, how family members support one other, and stresses and conflicts that arise in these ties. Data from the Family Exchanges Study are publicly available here.

Dr. Fingerman is also currently conducting the NIA-funded Daily Experiences in Late Life Study examining older adults’ social relationships and physical and cognitive functioning in a daily context. This study included more than 300 older adults and tracked social interactions and daily activities. Innovative methods included a variety of devices to assess physical activity, conversations and older adults’ subjective experiences throughout the day.

Daily Experiences in Late Life Study

The Aphasia Research and Treatment Lab at the University of Texas at Austin is conducting a study investigating how the brain processes language. They are recruiting individuals age 50-80 years old with a diagnosis from a neurologist of Mild Cognitive Impairment. The study consists of up to three sessions that include behavioral, EEG and MRI tasks. Participants will earn up to $100. Contact: Rachel Tessmer, Doctoral Student, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, rachel.tessmer@austin.utexas.edu or 281.813.6102.

Study Examining Sleep, Memory and Decision Making
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are looking for older adults (ages 70-90) to participate in a study examining sleep, memory and decision making. The study involves completing psychological tests, surveys and computer-based decision-making and memory tasks in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. It will also involve the continuous wearing of a small wristwatch device that measures sleep-wake activity for 10 days. The first session takes approximately 1 to 2 hours, and the second session takes approximately 3 hours. Eligible participants will receive $10/hour for participating on the first day of assessments and an additional $100 for wearing the wristwatch and participating on the second day of assessments. In total, each participant may earn up to $120. Each participant will also receive a picture of his or her brain and a personalized sleep-activity report. If you would like to receive more information about the study, please email UTagingresearch@gmail.com or call 512.471.2745 to reach the study coordinator.

Texas A&M University

Neighborhood Design Study

Texas A&M University has received a $2.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how neighborhood design affects the health of adults. While this 5-year study is not exclusively for seniors, it will include some participants aged 55+. Eligible participants must be older than 21 with plans to move to Austin’s Mueller neighborhood in the near future, or be living in the Austin Metropolitan Area and not planning to move in the next year. Marcia Ory Ph.D., M.P.H., a Texas A&M School of Public Health professor, will lead the project, as well as Texas A&M College of Architecture professors Xuemei Zhu, Ph.D., and Chanam Lee, Ph.D. More information about this study can be found on the project website.