The Department would like to recognize Eran Dayan, PhD, for receiving (NIH) National Institute on Aging R01 funding ($1.56M+) for his project “Redundancy as a neuroprotective mechanism against aging-related cognitive decline.”  Over the 4-year lifespan (4.15.2019 – 2.28.2023) of this project, Dayan will serve as P.I. alongside UNC co-investigators Drs. Martin Styner (Psychiatry), Peter Mucha (Mathematics), Marc Neithammer (Computer Science), Kelly Giovanello (Psychology and Neuroscience) and Yufeng Liu (Statistics and Operations Research).

Eran Dayan, PhDDayan’s study focuses on mechanisms which may explain an individual’s vulnerability to versus resilience against the effects of aging on cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Specifically, his investigative team is examining whether redundancy in structural and functional brain networks has a neuroprotective role in cognitive aging. Redundancy is defined as the existence of duplicate elements within a system that provide alternative functionality in case of failure. Uniquely, this study is the first to empirically examine redundancy as a neuroprotective mechanism against aging-related cognitive decline.

To carry out three aims examining whether redundancy in functional and structural brain networks protects against aging-related cognitive decline, this investigation analyzes large-scale, cross-sectional and longitudinal neuroimaging datasets tapping cognitive function via structural, diffusion and functional magnetic resonance imaging. By study’s conclusion, Dayan’s investigative team seeks to improve the understanding of the mechanisms that underlie aging-related cognitive decline via empirical evidence that may explain why certain individuals are more susceptible to the adverse consequences of cognitive aging.

Dr. Dayan runs the Dayan Lab for NeuroInformatics at UNC, which seeks to identify the organizational, dynamical, and computational properties of large-scale brain networks and to determine how these properties contribute to human behavior in health and disease. In relation to the overall mission of his lab, he notes of his newly funded work addressing aging-related cognitive decline: “The study utilizes inter-disciplinary methods and relies on the inter-disciplinary expertise of our diverse team. I believe we are well-positioned to tackle the study’s goals, and hope that the study will pave the way to additional long-term collaborative projects investigating neurodegeneration and aging.”