Midlife (ages 45-60) is an understudied critical period during which women undergo menopause, ovarian hormone production declines, and structural and functional changes within the brain’s memory circuitry first emerge. We launched the “Healthy Midlife Aging Study” at UCSB’s Brain Imaging Center to investigate cognitive function and associated neurophysiological activity of the brain in men and women during this uncharted decade.
In a dense-sampling, multimodal brain imaging study we are examining the extent to which endogenous fluctuations in sex steroid hormones across a complete reproductive cycle -28 days- alter intrinsic functional connectivity of brain networks. Next, using a high resolution hippocampal subfield imaging protocol we are probing the impact of sex hormones on the morphology of the hippocampus and surrounding tissue.
​​​​​​​This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts in neuroscience, endocrinology, spatial cognition, and navigation. Combining immersive virtual environments and state-of-the-art brain imaging technologies, we are examining the effects of chronological and reproductive aging on spatial navigation ability and the neuronal systems that compute spatial information. 
Oral hormonal contraception (OC) is used by more than 100 million women worldwide, but there has been no systematic investigation into the short- and long-term consequences of hormonal contraceptive use on the brain. 
In mouse models, reduced telomerase activity and telomere loss have widespread consequences on neurodegeneration, including restricted neurogenesis and atrophy of white matter tracts, but there is limited evidence linking TL to age-related grey and white matter deficits in humans.

The lab extends our gratitude for generous support from: the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the California Nanosciences Institute, the University of California Regents Junior Faculty Fund, the UCSB Academic Senate, the Hellman Fellows Fund, the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind, the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship, the Harvey L. Karp Discovery Award, the Rutherford Fett Fund, and the Gottsdanker Research Fund.