New national centre to study cognitive health launched

A new national centre to research cognitive health has been launched to help Australian researchers work to prevent cognitive decline.

The NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cognitive Health is the first of its kind in Australia and will be based at the ANU Research School of Population Health, with the second major site at the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne.

The new centre was awarded $2.5 million from the NHMRC. It will be both a national and international collaboration of leading researchers, clinicians, policy makers and consumers which will focus on cognitive health promotion and prevention of cognitive decline.

Cognitive health covers a range of abilities such as memory, reasoning capacity, reaction time and planning and processing speed, as well as all things that enable people to learn, acquire skills, adapt to change and function effectively in society.

Professor Kaarin Anstey, who will lead the Centre, said it will identify risk factors, conduct intervention studies to improve cognitive function, and develop guidelines and modelling for new policies.

"The new Centre will allow us to work in partnership with our key stakeholders so that we can make a true difference to the Australian community," Professor Anstey said.

Professor Nicola Lautenschlager, Director of the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age, will lead the second major site of the Centre.

“It is an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate across institutions on this important topic. The Centre will enable us to translate and implement knowledge to promote cognitive health, which is relevant to all age groups” said Professor Lautenschlager.

The centre will also include leading researchers from the University of New South Wales, Exeter University UK, the Australian Catholic University and the Baker International Diabetes Institute.

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Picture: Brain health blog, cblue8, flickr.