Many of the neurological deficits associated with the aging process occur in the absence of neurodegenerative disease. In fact, these diseases are often superimposed upon an already declining nervous system. These deficits may include decreases in both motor and memory functions which could, in many cases, result in hospitalization or custodial care. The changes that occur both in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, as well as those in aging, may involve increases in vulnerability to oxidative stress.
The Neuroscience Laboratory is examining factors that increase susceptibility to oxidative stress, with a view toward identifying nutrient antioxidant regimens to restore or prevent the decline of these behaviors. Research is aimed at determining the membrane and neurotransmitter receptor characteristics that alter calcium homeostasis and increase oxidative stress vulnerability and, ultimately, cell viability in neuronal aging. Studies examine the expression of age-related behavioral deficits using cognitive and motor behavior assessments. The laboratory also investigates the effects of dietary supplementation with fruits and vegetables high in antioxidant activity, as well as other antioxidants, on retarding age-related cellular, neuronal, and behavioral deficits and on neurotransmitter internalization and sensitivity. Experiments are also conducted to ascertain the role of neuronal stimulation in subsequent protection against oxidative stress.