Joyce Gomes-Osman, PhD, PT is the first recipient of the Evelyn F. McKnight Small Pilot Collaborative Research Award Program (funding period: July 2017- June 2018). She is a rehabilitation scientist with expertise in clinical research that aims to harness plasticity through interventions such as noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) and exercise, and assesses their effects on the human nervous system during aging. She did her postdoctoral Fellowship at the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation of Harvard Medical School. Her overall research aims to better understand the influence of exercise and its potential to improve function and promote neuroplasticity throughout the lifespan.
Dr. Gomes-Osman’s small pilot research project is entitled Aerobic exercise to influence mechanisms of brain plasticity and cognition in healthy aging. The goal of this study is to compare the effects of a moderate intensity aerobic exercise intervention (delivered at 55-64% age-predicted maximal heart rate) and high intensity aerobic exercise intervention (delivered at 65%-90% age-predicted maximal heart rate) on measures that probe cortical synaptic plasticity using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and neuropsychological tests of cognitive performance in older healthy adults at risk for developing cognitive impairments. Her primary hypothesis is that high-intensity aerobic exercise intervention is associated with a greater increase in measures that probe cortical synaptic plasticity on TMS and with greater increases in processing speed, executive function and attention. She proposed to enroll thirty participants aged 65 years or older with no cognitive impairment (Mini Mental State Exam >24), but with a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease and/or ɛ4 allele carriers from the Evelyn F. McKnight Research Registry and the University of Miami Memory Clinic. The recruitment is currently ongoing