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Senior Investigator

Peter R. Rapp, Ph.D.

Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience

251 Bayview Boulevard, Suite 100
Baltimore MD 21224
Office: 410-558-8195

Dr. Rapp received his Ph.D. in Biopsychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986. After postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, California, he accepted a position on the faculty of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. From 1997 until joining the NIA in 2008, he was Associate Professor of Neuroscience, and Geriatrics and Adult Development at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, holding various positions including Interim Chair of the Fishberg Department of Neuroscience (2006-2008), the Mount Sinai Endowed Chair in Neuroscience, and Co-Director of the Graduate Training Program in Neuroscience. His extramural research on the cognitive and neurobiological consequences of normal aging has received continuous NIH funding since 1989. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including the position of Section Editor at Neurobiology of Aging. Author of numerous basic research reports, reviews and book chapters, Dr. Rapp's research interests focus on epigenetic contributions to age-related cognitive decline, in vivo imaging studies of neurocognitive aging, and the development of strategies aimed at promoting optimally healthy cognitive aging.

Models of Neurocognitive Aging: Age-related deficits in cognitive function compromise the quality of life and are among the most troubling consequences of growing older. A major line of research in the Neurocognitive Aging Section (NAS) is aimed at establishing a nonhuman primate model for defining the basis of normal cognitive aging, and for developing effective interventions. Early studies succeeded in revealing the basic neuropsychological profile of aging, and the lab has now turned attention to the specific nature of decline, with the aim of defining the effects of aging on the component processes of declarative/episodic memory. Young and aged monkeys are tested across a battery of novel assessments that manipulate demands on key operating characteristics of memory: 1) the contributions of recollection and familiarity to visual recognition, 2) memory for spatial and non-spatial context, 3) the temporal structure of experience, and 4) the relational organization of memory. An important goal of these studies is to develop a detailed and sensitive framework for testing the working hypothesis that age-related decline results from large-scale restructuring of the neural networks that support normal memory. Toward this end, subjects receive periodic high resolution, structural MRI and corresponding [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose PET scans, over the course of neuropsychological testing. Metabolic activity in the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe system is then evaluated in relation to individual variability in the cognitive outcome of aging. The incidence of menstruation and urinary hormone profiles are also tracked, enabling evaluation of the behavioral and imaging results in relation to naturally occurring ovarian failure.

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  • 1) Hsu LM, Liang X, Gu H, Brynildsen JK, Stark JA, Ash JA, Lin CP, Lu H, Rapp PR, Stein EA, Yang Y (2016)
  • Constituents and functional implications of the rat default mode network
  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113(31), E4541-7
  • 2) Ash JA, Lu H, Taxier LR, Long JM, Yang Y, Stein EA, Rapp PR (2016)
  • Functional connectivity with the retrosplenial cortex predicts cognitive aging in rats
  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113(43), 12286-12291
  • 3) Hara Y, Yuk F, Puri R, Janssen WG, Rapp PR, Morrison JH (2016)
  • Estrogen Restores Multisynaptic Boutons in the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex while Promoting Working Memory in Aged Rhesus Monkeys.
  • J Neurosci, 36(3), 901-10
  • 4) Tomas Pereira I, Gallagher M, Rapp PR (2015)
  • Head west or left, east or right: interactions between memory systems in neurocognitive aging
  • Neurobiol Aging, 36(11), 3067-3078
  • 5) Baxter MG, Roberts MT, Gee NA, Lasley BL, Morrison JH, Rapp PR (2013)
  • Multiple clinically relevant hormone therapy regimens fail to improve cognitive function in aged ovariectomized rhesus monkeys
  • Neurobiol Aging, 34(7), 1882-90
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