Susan Bookheimer, the Joaquin M. Fuster Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is co-principal investigator for a newly awarded nationwide study that will investigate what keeps our brains sharp as we age and what contributes to cognitive decline.

The study will be performed by researchers from UCLA, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Minnesota.

Known as the adult aging brain connectome study, the project is funded by a $33.1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. It will build on the Human Connectome Project and related studies, which mapped the anatomical and functional connections among brain areas in healthy children and adults, providing insight into normal brain structure and function across the life span.

The new study will follow 1,000 adults over several years and include brain scans and other data to help the researchers understand how each individual’s brain changes over time. The scientists will aim to identify factors that put people at risk for or protect them from cognitive decline. That could help determine a person’s risk for unhealthy aging, and which lifestyle and behavior changes can improve outcomes.