Human Factors/Applied Cognition: The genetic modulation of cognitive and brain change in midlife by measuring effects of neurotransmission and neurotrophic SNPs, including the Alzheimer susceptibility gene APOE.
Dr. Greenwood received her PhD at SUNY Stony Brook under MIchael Gazzaniga. She went on to a post-doctoral fellowship at the West Haven VA and Yale University to learn event-related potential techniques with Truett Allison and W.R. Goff and conduct basic research on somatic event-related potentials. She eventually moved to Catholic University in Washington, DC, as research faculty to study attention using both electrophysiology and behavioral methods in healthy aging and Alzheimer's disease. At Catholic, she and Raja Parasuraraman developed a large-scale study of the genetics of cognitive aging using both information processing and standardized neuropsychological assessments of cognition as a function of APOE and neurotransmission genes. They moved this study to George Mason University in 2004 and added a longitudinal component.
The goal of this research is to study the genetic modulation of cognitive and brain change in midlife by measuring effects of neurotransmission and neurotrophic SNPs, including the Alzheimer susceptibility gene APOE. Brain change is measured in cortical thickness and white matter integrity from MRI scans. With their European collaborators, Drs. Greenwood and Parasuraman are involved in the first large-scale genome-wide study (GWAS) of cognitive aging.
Dr. Greenwood has research interests in cognitive aging and the genetics of cognitive aging which she examines using behavioral, neuroimaging, and genetic methods. Specifically she studies the modulation by normal genetic variation of attention, working memory, and the role of attention in forming and maintaining mental representations in working memory. She and Parasuraman are conducting a longitudinal study of the genetics of cognitive change in midlife. In collaboration with Drs. Parasuraman, Thompson, and Peterson, and James Bicksel (Inova Memory Center) she recently began a randomized controlled trial of cognitive training in healthy older people and people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
Greenwood, P. M., Lin, M. K., Sundararajan, R., Fryxell, K. J., & Parasuraman, R. (2009). Synergistic effects of genetic variation in nicotinic and muscarinic receptors on visual attention but not working memory. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(9), 3633-3638.
Greenwood, P. M., Sundararajan, R., Lin, M. K., Kumar, R., Fryxell, K. J., & Parasuraman, R. (2009). Both a Nicotinic SNP and a Noradrenergic SNP Modulate Working Memory Performance when Attention is Manipulated. J Cogn Neurosci. 21 (11) 2139-53.
Greenwood, P.M. (2007) Functional plasticity in cognitive aging: Review and hypothesis. Neuropsychology, 21, 657-673. (Published with open peer commentary).
PSYC 317 - Cognitive Psychology
Human Factors of Cognitive Aging
Clarke, E., Andrews, A., Espeseth, T. Parasuraman, R., Greenwood, P.M. Visuospatial attention influences mental representation during working memory maintenance as reflected in the CDA. Paper presented at American Psychological Association, Boston, May, 2010.
McGarry, W., Greenwood, P.M. Parasuraman, R. The change in distribution of visuospatial attention with aging. To be presented at Society for Neuroscience, November, 2010.
Greenwood, P.M., Lin, M-K, Fryxell, K.J, Parasuraman, R. Normal variation in BDNF and COMT genes and individual differences in working memory in old age. To be presented at Society for Neuroscience, November, 2010.
In the Media
Dr. Greenwood's research, along with that of others, was discussed in "Mason Experts Attack Alzheimer’s on All Fronts" in the Mason Gazette.