Denise Park

Distinguished University Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Regents' Research Scholar and Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Director of Research of the Center for Vital Longevity
Tags: Cognition and Neuroscience

Professional Preparation

Ph.D - Experimental Psychology
State University of New York at Albany - 1977
B.A. - Psychology
Albion College - 1973

Research Areas


Dr. Park focuses her research program on understanding how the mind changes and adapts as we age. She is interested not only in the function of the mind and brain, but in determining whether stimulation can maintain the health of the aging brain. She is also focusing on isolating a "neural signature" of middle-aged adults who will age with vitality versus those who are at greater risk of less adaptive cognitive aging.

Her research interests includes : 

  • The neuroscience of memory and aging
  • Cognitive neuroscience of aging, and culture
  • Cognition in medical settings and aging
  • Social cognition and aging


Kennedy, K.M., Rodrigue, K.M., Devous, M.D., Hebrank, A.C., Bischof, G.N. (in press). Beta-amyloid burden is associated with altered functional activation during encoding across the adult lifespan. Neuroimage. in press - Publication
Park, D.C. & McDonough, I. (In press). The dynamic aging mind: Revelations from functional neuroimaging research. Perspectives in Psychological Science. in press - Publication
Grossmann, I; Na, J; Varnum, ME; Park, DC; Kitayama, S; Nisbett, RE. (in press). Reasoning about social conflicts improves into old age. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. ? - Publication
Park, J., Hebrank, A.C., Polk, T.A., & Park, D.C. (2012). Neural dissociation of number from letter recognition and its relationship to parietal numerical processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 39-50. 2012 - Publication
Peiying, L., Hebrank, A.C., Rodrigue, K.M., Kennedy, K.M., Park, D.C., & Lu, H. (2012). A comparison of physiologic modulators of FMRI signals. Human Brain Mapping 2012 - Publication
Huang, C.M., & Park, D.C. (2012). Cultural influences on Facebook photographs. International Journal of Psychology. 2012 - Publication
Park, J., Park, D.C., & Polk, T.A. (2012). Investigating unique environmental contributions to the neural representation of written words: A monozygotic twin study. PloS ONE, 7, e31512. 2012 - Publication
Park, J., Carp, J., Kennedy, K.M., Rodrigue, K.M., Bischof, G.N., Huang, C.M., Rieck, J.R., Polk, T.A., & Park, D.C. (2012). Neural broadening or neural attenuation? Investigating age-related dedifferentiation in the face network in a large lifespan sample. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 2154-2158. 2012 - Publication
Huang, C.M., Polk, T.A., Goh, J.O., & Park, D.C. (2012). Both left and right posterior parietal activations contribute to compensatory processes in normal aging. Neuropsychologia, 50, 55-66. 2012 - Publication
Rodrigue, K.M., Kennedy, K.M., Devous, M.D., Rieck, J.R., Hebrank, A.C, Diaz-Arrastia, R., Mathews, D., & Park D.C. (2012). Beta-amyloid burden in healthy aging: Regional distribution and cognitive consequences. Neurology, 78, 387-395. 2012 - Publication


T. Boone Pickens Distinguished Chair
The University of Texas at Dallas [2008–2010]
Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School [2008–Present]
Director & Professor & University of Texas Regents Research Scholar
The University of Texas at Dallas [2008–Present]
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [2002–2007]
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [2002–2007]
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [2002–2007]
Cognitive Division Chair
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [2002–2004]
The University of Michigan [1995–2002]
Senior Research Scientist
The University of Michigan [1995–2002]
The University of Georgia [1989–1995]

Additional Information

Editorial Boards and Review Committees
Member, Editorial Board:
  • Cognition, Aging, & Neuropsychology, 1998-present
  • Gerontology, 1998-present
  • Journal of Gerontology, 1984 to 1996
  • Psychology and Aging, 1988 to 1997
  • Perspectives on Psychological Science
Ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals.
Conferences Organized (since 1995)
  • Dallas-ACC (Aging & Cognition Conference), Dallas, TX, January 2010.
  • Second Symposium on Neuroscience, Aging & Cognition, Sponsored by the University of Illinois and Duke University, New York, NY, April 2003
  • Symposium on Neuroscience, Aging & Cognition, Funded by National Science Foundation & National Institute on Aging, San Francisco, CA. April 2002
  • Conference on Following Your Doctor's Instructions: Cognitive and Social Psychological Perspectives, Funded by National Institute on Aging, St. Pete Beach, Florida, February 2002
  • Conference on Human Factors Interventions for the Health Care of Older Adults, Funded by National Institute on Aging, Destin, Florida, February 2000
  • Conference on Aging and Communication: Opportunities and Challenges of Technology, Funded by German-American Academic Council Foundation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 1999
  • Conference on Elderly - Their Health and Functioning, Funded by German-American Academic Council Foundation, Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany, December 1998
  • Conference on Cognition, Aging, and Survey Measurement, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, February 1997
  • Conference on Medical Information Processing and Aging, Funded by National Institute on Aging, Destin, Florida, February 1997
  • Chair, External Advisory Committee (Beirat) for the Max Planck Center for Human Development, Berlin, Germany, 2006-2008
  • Chair, Cognition & Perception Review Panel, National Institutes of Health, 2003-2005
  • Board of Directors, American Psychological Society, 2002-2005.
  • Committee on a Research Agenda for Social Psychology, The National Academies of Sciences, 2002-2004.
  • Chair, The Beirat (external evaluation committee), The Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. 2004-present.
  • Presidential Task Force on Scientific Affairs, American Psychological Association, 2000-2001.
  • Chair, Board of Scientific Affairs, American Psychological Association, 1998-1999, Member, 1997-2000
  • Committee on Aging, The American Psychological Association, 1996-1997
  • Chair, National Institute of Health, Mental Disorders of Aging Study Section, 1995-1997, Member, 1993-1997
  • Chair, American Psychological Society, 1995 National Meeting, June 30-July 2, New York
  • Council of Representatives, American Psychological Association 1994-1997, Division 20 Representative
  • Chair, American Psychological Association Science Initiative, 1994-1995
  • Chair, The Human Capital Initiative, American Psychological Society, "Vitality for Life: Productive Aging and Psychological Research, a component of the Human Capital Initiative," APS, 1992-1993
  • President, Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging), American Psychological Association; 1991-1992

News Articles

UT Dallas Researcher on International Panel Addressing Alzheimers Research
For the first time in 27 years, revised criteria for the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease have been published, along with a new research agenda for studying the earliest stages of the disease, before symptoms appear. Three expert workgroups spearheaded by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association published their guidelines for clinicians and recommended research priorities in a series of articles available online April 19 and in the May 2011 print issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The guidelines mark a significant change in how experts think about and study Alzheimer’s, said Dr. Denise Park, co-director of UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity, who served on the 21-member international workgroup responsible for laying out the new research agenda.
Brain Scientist Appears in PBS TV Series on Aging
Dr. Denise Park, director of UT Dallas’ newly formed Center for Vital Longevity, is a featured expert in a new public television documentary series exploring aging issues for baby boomers. Park’s research is aimed at understanding how the mind changes and adapts as individuals age. She is interested not only in evaluating brain function but also in figuring out whether stimulation can maintain the health of aging brains. The public television series, About Life (Part 2), is hosted by Robert Lipsyte, an Emmy winner and former New York Times columnist. The episodes include roundtable discussions, on-location field pieces, one-on-one interviews and video essays. Producers provide viewers with insights regarding health, finances, care giving, careers and other issues they will face as they pass into their senior years.
Twins Study Looks at Genetic Influences on Thinking
A groundbreaking study by UT Dallas’ Center for Vital Longevity is focusing on twins in an effort to answer some long-debated questions about the rival influences of nature vs. nurture. Researchers are seeking participants for the Texas Twins Study, which tests the genetic component of neurocognitive development among young adults. The study uses functional MRI technology to investigate brain activity among pairs of identical and fraternal twins. Dr. Denise Park, director of the Center for Vital Longevity, is conducting this work in collaboration with Dr. Thad Polk, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology at The University of Michigan.
Prof Seeks Link Between Leisure and Brain Fitness
How can older adults stave off cognitive decline as they age? Can taking up hobbies improve cognitive function as we get older? UT Dallas neuroscientist Dr. Denise Park, one of the nation’s leading experts on the aging brain, is conducting a National Institutes of Health-funded study to find answers. To find what it takes to improve brain function in older people, Park, a UT System Regent’s Research Scholar and the T. Boone Pickens Distinguished University Chair in Clinical Brain Science, has recruited 400 Dallas residents over age 60 to participate in her “Synapse – Actively Engaging the Aging Mind” study. Synapse is designed to provide one of the first large-scale scientific investigations of the impact of stimulating leisure activities on the aging brain.
Denise Park Named T. Boone Pickens Distinguished Chair in Clinical Brain Science at UT Dallas
Dr. Denise Cortis Park, a talented scientist in the booming field of cognitive research of the aging, will join The University of Texas at Dallas in January as the T. Boone Pickens Distinguished Chair in Clinical Brain Science. The $2 million endowed chair is part of the University's School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, headed by Dr. Bert Moore. Park, who also will hold the title Regents' Research Scholar, will work closely with researchers in UT Dallas' Center for BrainHealth. Park's professional areas of interest include the neuroscience of memory and aging, as well as how cultural differences may affect patterns of neural activation. She is particularly interested in whether stimulating cognitive and social experiences can enhance brain function in older adults.


Neuroimaging of dedifferentiation and memory across the lifespan
$350,000 - National Institute on Aging [2018–2018]
Center for Healthy Minds
$350,000 - National Institute on Aging [2009–2010]
Impact of Exercise and Engagement on Cognition in Older Adults
$1,000,000 - National Institute on Aging Challenge Grant [2009–2011]
Competitive Supplement to Neuroimaging of Dedifferentiation and Memory across the Lifespan
$800,000 - National Institute on Aging [2009–2011]
Deposition, Aging and Neurocognitive Function
$200,000 - Alzheimer's Association IIRG. [2009–2010]