A researcher at the Marcus Institute for Aging Research in Boston, MA studies MRI images of a human brain.

Brain Health

Through pioneering multidisciplinary research, the Marcus Institute is uncovering new answers to the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium, and other changes to the brain.

Researching the Impact of Age-related Brain Changes

Our brain is responsible for much more than thinking and cognition. In fact, it controls all aspects of the way our body functions. Changes that happen in the brain as we get older affect areas of health such as gait, mobility, and falls; and increase our risk of experiencing dementia and delirium.

According to recent research, one in ten adults older than 65 experiences cognitive decline. This sobering statistic dramatically demonstrates the need to understand the connection between the brain and common age-related conditions, and to find ways to maintain brain health as we age.

Seeking Ways to Improve Brain Function in Older Adults

At the Marcus Institute, we’re seeking ways to prevent, reverse, treat, and manage brain-related changes in the functioning of older adults.

Because the brain is a complex organ that regulates all processes in our bodies, our research takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding its role in maintaining overall health. The Marcus Institute is:

  • Investigating the novel use of non-invasive brain stimulation to improve depression, executive cognitive function, mobility, falls, and balance.
  • Finding ways to enhance brain function to reduce the burden of cognitive decline, delirium, and dementia. 
  • Improving the care of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other related conditions, and reducing the burden on their caregivers.

Leading Researchers in Alzheimer’s, Delirium, and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

The Marcus Institute is home to top researchers in Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, neurology, and delirium. To name just a few:

  • Dr. Sharon Inouye has been awarded many of the highest accolades in her field due to her pioneering investigation of delirium. 
  • Dr. Susan Mitchell is a principal investigator on a massive collaborative research incubator developing trials aimed at evaluating interventions for Alzheimer’s and dementia, funded through a $53.4 million National Institute on Aging grant.  
  • Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone has been recognized as one of the world’s top 15 neuroscientists due to his innovative research into the use of non-invasive brain stimulation. 

Explore this section to learn more about the Marcus Institute’s current research projects relating to cognition, Alzheimer’s disease, delirium, dementia, and depression. 

Find current research projects

Showing 34 Results

Dietary Intervention Targeting Inflammation, Motivation, and Engagement in Physical Activity in Sedentary, Older Adults with Depressive Symptoms

This research aims to pilot test a dietary intervention designed to target inflammation, and ultimately improve motivation to engage in physical activity. The two major goals of this study are:  

1. To determine the feasibility and acceptability of a dietary intervention in older adults with depressive symptoms.

 2. To evaluate if modulation of inflammation improve lack of motivation, thereby increasing the engagement in physical activity.

Funded by a pilot award from The Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions 

Principal Investigator

ED-DEL: Delirium in the Emergency Department Project

This research aims to inspire and engage the medical and research community to address issues of delirium and healthy brain aging as global priorities. 

ED-DEL Toolkit

Principal Investigator

Effect of Baseline and Intercurrent Medical Factors on 6-year Cognitive Trajectory: Secondary Analysis of the SAGES Study

This research aims to evaluate the effects of intercurrent factors on cognitive trajectory, along with the moderating effects of delirium and/or ApoE-E4 status, which may serve as markers of brain vulnerability.

NIH R03AG075434

Principal Investigator

Eleanor and Herbert Bearak Healthy Lifestyles Program

This research aims to support individuals in articulating their vision of their best selves and then equip them with the knowledge and tools to perform at their highest cognitive potential, move toward the realization of that vision, and be satisfied with the outcome of their efforts. 

Principal Investigator

Healthy Aging Initiative

The Hebrew SeniorLife Healthy Aging Initiative is a longitudinal cohort study of older adults to identify biological and lifestyle predictors of lifelong health and well-being, as well as early biomarkers for disease, and enable development of interventions to promote healthy aging and add life to years.

The initiative leverages the expertise of all scientists at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research. 

The Healthy Aging Initiative aims to:

•    Identify the factors and predictors of lifelong health and well-being

•    Identify early biomarkers for disease and rate of aging

•    Determine factors that modify the progression of disease

•    Discover risks for specific illnesses

•    Enable the development of interventions

•    Ultimately expand the initiative to include a diverse population of older adults 

The Healthy Aging Initiative will take place at all Hebrew SeniorLife housing sites in 2023 including Jack Satter House, Center Communities of Brookline, NewBridge on the Charles, Orchard Cove, and Simon C. Fireman Community. We will be rotating through all the sites in order to conduct Healthy Aging Initiative assessments in-person, at a location that is convenient for participants.

Principal Investigator

High Frequency Monitoring of the Home Environment and Health and Wellbeing of Older Adults

This research aims to quantify the relationships between the physical home environment and health and wellbeing of older adults. 

Principal Investigator

Home-based Multifocal Transcranial Current Stimulation for Cognitive and Motor Dysfunction in Dementia

This research aims to complete a phase II, randomized, sham-controlled, double-blinded, parallel-arm trial to compare the effects of two forms of transcranial current stimulation to two different brain regions tACS-AG and tDCS-PFC versus sham in older adults with mild dementia to assess the effects of memory and executive functions depending on blood, spinal fluid, and neurophysiologic biomarker status. 

Funded by BrightFocus Foundation

Principal Investigators

Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP)

 HELP is an innovative model of hospital care, designed to prevent delirium and functional decline in hospitalized older adults by using a volunteer model to provide personal, supportive attention thru daily orientation, early mobilization, feeding assistance, therapeutic activities, a non-pharmacological sleep protocol, and hearing/vision adaptations.  The program is overseen by the American Geriatrics Society.

HELP website

Principal Investigator

Modulating Brain Networks to Reduce Gait Variability in Older Adults at Risk of Falling

This research aims to examine the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on resting-state functional connectivity and gait variability and related outcomes in older adults at risk of falling.

NIH 1K01AG075252-01

Principal Investigator

Join a Research Study


The goal of the study is to determine whether the senolytic medications Dasatinib and Quercetin can reduce senescent cells, increase mobility (walking speed), and improve memory in older adults.


I-STIM Study

The goal of the study is to determine whether non-invasive brain stimulation improves balance, walking, and memory in older adults.

I-STIM Faculty

Berries and Steps Study

The goal of this study is to learn about the relationship between antioxidants (commonly found in blueberries) and motivation to exercise. Researchers think that supplementing one's diet with antioxidants on a daily basis may be a practical way to reduce inflammation and improve lack of motivation to exercise.

Berries and Steps Study Faculty

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