Virtual Talk with Annabell Coors


Global life expectancy has increased by 5 years between 2010 to 2016. Given that age is a key risk factor for dementia, projections suggest that the global prevalence of dementia will nearly triple in the next three decades. Dementia prevention is therefore essential. One approach is to focus on risk factors and search for markers that identify individuals with an elevated risk. I will present a project of mine in which I assessed the potential of cognitive measures to identify individuals at increased genetic risk for dementia. Another approach is to focus on those individuals who perform cognitively better than would be expected given their level of their brain pathology, so-called resilient individuals. The focus here is on identifying the factors that distinguish these resilient individuals from those with low resilience. I will discuss my findings on whether personality is a factor underlying resilience.


Annabell Coors is a postdoctoral researcher working with Prof. Dr. Yaakov Stern in the Cognitive Neuroscience Division at Columbia University in New York City on healthy cognitive aging. She was trained as a psychologist at the Phillips-University in Marburg before conducting her Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University of Bonn. During her PhD, she worked under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Monique MB Breteler and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Ettinger on the use of eye movements as a marker for aging and disease. To further advance her skills in statistical data analysis, she also worked on collaborative projects within the Helmholtz Climate Initiative and on blood-based biomarkers during her PhD. After defending her PhD thesis in June 2022, she decided to shift her research focus from disease to successful cognitive aging. Thus, she joined the group of Prof. Dr. Yaakov Stern, the inventor of the concept of cognitive reserve, which describes how to maintain high cognitive performance in the presence of age- and disease-related brain pathologies. Her current Walter Benjamin fellowship projects focus onpersonality as a factor underlying cognitive reserve and its neural basis. Her long-term career goal is to investigate as an independent researcher how resilience to biological and psychological stressors develops across the lifespan.

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