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

  • Task Force on Aging Report (TFAR), 1994-1995. Member of Advisory Board
  • Interim Advisory Science Committee of the American Psychological Association, 1994
  • American Psychological Society, Program Committee, 1994
  • Federation of Behavioral, Psychological & Cognitive
  • Sciences Member, Sciences Seminar Committee, 1993
  • 1995Membership Committee, Division 20, 1989-1991
  • Network Committee, Division 1, 1987 to 1994
  • Science, Leaders Council, American Psychological Association, 1997-present
  • Chair, Science Forum Committee, Federation of Cognitive and Behavioral Scientists, 1997-present
  • Behavioral and Social Sciences Board, The Gerontological Society of American; 1996-2000 Election Committee, Division 1, 1987
  • Continuing Education Committee, Division 20, 1986-1989
  • Program Committee, Division 20, 1986, 1987
  • Elections Committee, Division 20, 1986
  • Member at large, Division 1 (General Psychology), 1985-1991
  • Elections Committee, Division 1, 1985, 1988
  • Program Committee, Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging), 1985
  • Executive Committee, Division 20, 1984-1997
  • Network Committee, Division 20, 1983
  • Election Committee, Division 20, 1982
  • Program Committee, Division 20, 1982
  • Program Committee, Division 1, 1982
Study Section Membership
  • Chair, Cognition and Perception Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2003-2006
  • Member, Study Section, Cognition and Perception Study Section, National Institutes of Health, October 2001 to October 2003
  • Chair, Study Section, Mental Disorders of Aging, National Institute of Mental Health, 1994 to 1996
  • Member, Study Section, Mental Disorders of Aging, NIMH, June 1992 to 1994
  • Member, Study Section, SBIR Vision Review Committee for the NIH, October 1994
  • Member, Site Visit Team for University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Center, National Institute on Aging, October 1994
  • Member, Special Study Section, National Institute of Health, Vision/Diabetes SBIR Grants, March 1993
  • Ad Hoc Member, Study Section, National Institute of Mental Health Clinical Psychopathology Review Committee, February 1993
  • Ad Hoc Member, Study Section, MRS Biomedical Research Special Review Panel, NIH, April 1991
  • Ad Hoc Member, Study Section, National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic & Services Research, 1987

Denise Park, PhD, moved from the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois to The University of Texas at Dallas, where she is the founder and co-director of the Center for Vital Longevity, as well as a University of Texas Regents Research Scholar.

She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; received the American Psychological Association's award for Distinguished Contributions to the Psychology of Aging, and recently served on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Society. She has an NIH Merit Award for her research and also directs an NIA Roybal Translational Research Center on Aging. She has chaired, in the past, the NIMH study section on the Mental Disorders of Aging and most recently chaired the NIH Cognition and Perception Study Section.

News Articles

Prof Is Tapped to Monitor National Womens Study
Dr. Denise Park, director of the Center for Vital Longevity at The University of Texas at Dallas, has been appointed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to serve on the Observational Study Monitoring Board for the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). Launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1991, the Women's Health Initiative was a 15-year, multimillion-dollar endeavor, and one of the largest U.S. studies of its kind. It was designed to gather critical data on diseases affecting women, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. The WHI originally consisted of a set of clinical trials and an observational study, which together involved nearly 162,000 women across the U.S. In 2010 the NIH extended the program through 2015, with some changes in focus. During this renewal period, researchers will continue to study many chronic diseases of aging, but they also will focus on age-related cardiovascular conditions, cognition and predictors of healthy aging.
Center for Vital Longevity Receives Over $5 Million for Aging Studies
Researchers at the Center for Vital Longevity at The University of Texas at Dallas recently received three federal grants totaling more than $5 million to start new projects or continue existing studies on the cognitive neuroscience of aging.

“These recent awards are a very welcome addition to the federal funding held by the center,” said Dr. Michael Rugg, Distinguished Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and center director. “They will support important and urgently needed research and are a testimony to the talents of my colleagues and to the high quality of their research programs.”
Dr. Denise Park
, Distinguished University Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and director of research and the founder of the center, was awarded $1.2 million from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) for an ongoing project aimed at determining whether individuals can slow the rate at which their brains age. Park initiated the Synapse Project eight years ago with NIA funding.
Lifespan Brain Study Adds Possible Clue in Predicting Alzheimer’s
New research from The University of Texas at Dallas suggests that periodic evaluation of changing amyloid levels in certain brain structures may offer an important clue into who may be on a trajectory toward Alzheimer’s disease.
Deposits of a protein called amyloid in the brain are one of the earliest signs that an individual is at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The findings, published in the Nov. 6, 2018, issue of the journal Neurology, indicated that early changes in amyloid in posterior cortical regions of the brain were associated with subtle declines in episodic memory — one’s memory for events, times and places that are autobiographical in nature. Declines in this type of memory are known to be one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s.


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]