Collaboratory on Research Definitions for Reserve and Resilience in Cognitive Aging and Dementia



The Collaboratory, established in 2019, has been very successful in allowing us to develop consensus operational definitions for three aspects of “resilience:” cognitive reserve, brain maintenance and brain reserve. Over three annual workshops (2019, 2020, 2021), we discussed and finalized “A Framework for Concepts of Reserve and Resilience in Aging,” which is now published in Neurobiology of Aging.  We also funded pilot awards that provide examples of how to implement our operational definitions.

It is our strong belief that it would be very useful to have a final meeting focusing on dating sharing. The goal is to facilitate further research that implements the Framework.  This will be best accomplished by developing collaborative projects that use shared data.

The 4th Workshop on Research Definitions for Reserve & Resilience in Cognitive Aging and Dementia: Data Sharing for the Study of Reserve & Resilience convened on December 4 and 5, 2023 for a great interactive program with important outcomes. We had experts provide practical information about various facets of data sharing, including guidance from National Institute on Aging representatives on new data sharing requirements. A large part of the meeting was set aside for two breakout sessions. The first focused on brainstorming about projects that would benefit from data sharing. The second then focused on developing concrete plans for research projects on which participants can work together in the future.

Our hope is that this final meeting will spark many innovative research projects that will make major contributions to our understanding and the neural implementation of reserve and resilience.

We invite you to review our program and related materials.



The Collaboratory on Research Definitions for reserve and resilience in cognitive aging and dementia has provided a platform for the exchange of ideas towards developing a framework.

The goal of the Collaboratory was to come to a consensus across the research community on operational definitions to further a cohesive research goal encompassing age-related and disease related cognitive decline.


Animal Studies Workgroup

This workgroup included both human and non-human researchers to discuss how animal studies could help inform our understanding of reserve and resilience concepts. The workgroup following multiple discussions have published their findings in a review article.

Data Sharing Workgroup

An important goal of the Collaboratory was to create data sharing platforms. Towards this goal the Collaboratory website houses resources a comprehensive list of research groups that focus on reserve and resilience studies. Another important resource is the list of both human and non-human researchers that can provide data or collaborate with researchers for enhanced analysis.

Pilot Studies Workgroup

The pilot studies workgroup helped the Collaboratory to put out a call for pilot studies with specific focus on the research definitions. The workgroup identified 12 pilot studies (link to the studies) that helped further the goal of the Collaboratory.


Executive Committee Members:
Yaakov Stern
Marilyn Albert
Carol Barnes
Roberto Cabeza
Alvaro Pascual Leone
Peter Rapp

Jennifer Bizon
Christine Denny
John Disterhoft
Thomas Foster
Michela Gallagher
Catherine Kaczorowski
Gerd Kemperman
Joseph McQuail


Executive Committee Members:
Yaakov Stern
Marilyn Albert
Carol Barnes
Roberto Cabeza
Alvaro Pascual Leone
Peter Rapp

Kristine Walhovd
Marcus Richards
David Batres Faz
Stuart Ritchie
Nikolaos Scarmeas


Executive Committee Members:
Yaakov Stern
Marilyn Albert
Carol Barnes
Roberto Cabeza
Alvaro Pascual Leone
Peter Rapp

Sylvie Belleville
Emrah Duzel
Matt Huentelman
William Jagust
William Krememen

Executive Committee

Yaakov Stern, PhD - CHAIR
Yaakov Stern, PhD, (Workshop Chair) is Chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division, Department of Neurology and Professor of Neuropsychology, Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center.


Dr. Stern’s research focuses on cognition in normal aging and diseases of aging, particularly AD. A strong theme of his research has been exploring individual differences in task performance in general and more specifically the reason why some individuals show more cognitive deficits than others in the face of brain insult. This has led to the cognitive reserve hypothesis, which provides rationale for intervening to improve cognitive aging.


Dr. Stern has provided some of the earliest epidemiologic evidence and developing the theory of cognitive reserve, differentiating it from other important concepts such as brain reserve and brain maintenance. His lab is involved in several ongoing, large scale imaging studies of cognition in normal aging, studies of heterogeneity of AD and epidemiologic studies of aging, AD incidence and progression.


Dr. Stern’s research approach includes classic neuropsychological and cognitive experimental techniques, with strong focus on functional imaging.

Marilyn Albert, PhD

Marilyn Albert, PhD, is Professor of Neurology and Director of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of the Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is also the Director of the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Her research focuses on understanding the cognitive and brain changes in aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as AD. Dr. Albert’s research aims to identify the relationship between biomarkers based on imaging, cerebrospinal fluid, blood and genetics to cognitive changes and the early diagnosis of AD.  Her research was the first to show the characteristic feature of delayed recall in AD.

Dr. Albert’s work on the examination of risk and protective factors in progression from normal cognition to mild cognitive impairment incorporates the important concept of cognitive reserve. More recently her work has combined longitudinal studies with biomarkers and cognitive test scores to characterize the progression across the AD continuum.

Carol Barnes, PhD

Carol Barnes, PhD, is Regents’ Professor of Psychology, Neurology and Neuroscience at the University of Arizona, and the Evelyn F. McKnight Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging.  She is also the Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute and the Division of Neural Systems, Memory and Aging at UA.

Dr. Barnes is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Barnes is known for her pioneering work in animal models of brain aging and cognition, and the development of the novel “Barnes maze”. Her research aims to understand the neurobiological mechanisms that underly memory change in normal aging and individual differences in cognitive trajectories that occurs in aging.

Dr. Barnes’ seminal work in 1980 on synaptic transmission in the hippocampus of aging animals first demonstrated the concept of compensation in aging brain. Over the course of her research career, she has developed a number of methods for high density electrophysiological recording of behavior-driven single cell activity and molecular activity monitoring across the brain. Her lab uses behavioral, electrophysiological and molecular approaches to identify factors that would benefit from specific treatment or prevention approaches for optimizing memory across the lifespan.

Roberto Cabeza, PhD

Roberto Cabeza, PhD, is Professor at the Department of Psychology of Neuroscience of Duke University, where he is also Core Member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Senior Fellow of the Center for Aging and Human Development.

Dr. Cabeza has over 20 years of experience in neuroimaging of episodic memory and aging. His laboratory uses functional MRI (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), electro-encephalography (EEG), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Using these various techniques, his laboratory investigates compensatory mechanisms in the aging brain, including the phenomena that older adults tend to show more bilateral and more frontal activation patterns than younger adults. Dr. Cabeza and his students also examine age-related deficits in white-matter and their impact on functional brain activity and connectivity. They also study the effects of aging on the neural mechanisms of memory processes, including recollection, source memory, false memory, emotional memory, and autobiographical memory.

Currently, Dr. Cabeza’s laboratory is using sophisticated network and representational analyses to examine age effects on cognitive abilities, including decision making, and examining the use of cognitive training and TMS to enhance cognition in older adults. Dr. Cabeza’s work has direct implications for understanding individual differences in cognitive abilities among older adults, including those related to pathological processes such as Alzheimer’s Disease

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD

Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, and a Senior Scientist at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research and Medical Director of the Center for Memory Health at Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) in Boston, MA. He also serves as the Director of the Guttmann Brain Health Institute and the Scientific Director of the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative in Barcelona, Spain.

Dr. Pascual–Leone is an international leader in the study and modulation of human cortical plasticity and a pioneer in the use of noninvasive brain stimulation methods and their application for the study of brain behavior relations and the development of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions in neuropsychiatry. His work has contributed to the technological improvement, clinical application, and teaching of noninvasive brain stimulation technologies, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and transcranial Electric Stimulation (tES).

Dr. Pascual-Leone is also a listed inventor in multiple patents regarding the integration of various brain imaging and neurophysiologic techniques, engineering solutions to enable closed-loop, EEG-gated stimulation, as well as new brain stimulation methods and techniques, such as Temporal Interference Stimulation (TIS) that allow precise and selective noninvasive stimulation of deep brain structures. A major current focus of Dr. Pascual-Leone’s scientific work is the development of translational approaches to characterize and promote brain health across the lifespan. Dr. Pascual-Leone remains a practicing cognitive neurologist and dementia specialist with a focus on comprehensive, patient-centered, personalized care and multi-disciplinary, holistic support of individuals with cognitive decline, their families and caregivers.

Peter Rapp, PhD

Peter Rapp, PhD, is Chief of the Neurocognitive Aging Section and Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Intramural Research Program. His research centers on the cognitive and neurobiological effects of aging in preclinical animal models including rats and monkeys.

Dr. Rapp is well known for establishing a widely used rat model of cognitive aging and advancing a non-human primate model of cognitive aging. In the preclinical animal models, Dr. Rapp’s research recognized that neuron death is neither a consequence of aging, nor required for the age-related cognitive impairment and therefore the relative changes in cognitive aging is subtle rather than dramatic neuron loss.

Advancing his research, Dr. Rapp has active collaborations which have identified key neurobiological signatures of age-related cognitive impairments. His body of work suggests that successful healthy cognitive aging arises from a process of neuroadaptation that could lead to interventions towards effective aging.

Collaboratory on Research Definitions for Reserve and Resilience in Cognitive Aging and Dementia

Research indicates that specific life exposures and genetic factors contribute to some people being more resilient than others, with lower rates of cognitive decline with aging and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia (ADRD). The factors associated with resilience have an important role in the development of interventions and health policies. There are likely several complex and highly interactive mechanisms that lead to these individual differences in vulnerability to decline, probably reliant on both structural and functional brain mechanisms. Investigators in this area have employed many terms encapsulating individual differences including resilience, cognitive reserve, brain reserve, brain maintenance, and compensation. In addition, there are terms commonly used in cognitive neuroscience studies of aging, such as efficiency, capacity, and compensation. However, the definitions of these concepts differ across researchers, and the translation from human to animal research is not well developed. It is important to bring together researchers from basic neuroscience to human studies to develop operational definitions for these concepts.

Along with these definitions, there is a need for translating these concepts so that they can guide research on all levels of epidemiologic, clinical, intervention, imaging and basic animal research. A particular challenge will be to identify corresponding concepts in neurobiology, animal models and models at the level of cells and molecules and approaches bridging those levels of analysis.

The three year, NIA-supported Collaboratory on Research Definitions has provided a platform for the exchange of ideas. The goal of the Collaboratory was to develop operational definitions, research guidelines, and data sharing platforms with consensus and assistance from the research community. To reach its goal the Collaboratory has held three cross-discipline workshops that brought together investigators to discuss and come to consensus on these concepts, created focused work groups examined each of these issues, funded pilot grants designed to further the understanding and research applicability of these concepts, and to developed data sharing and information exchange platforms to help guide research in this area.


The Collaboratory’s Framework for Terms Used in Research of Reserve and Resilience.


Available Human and Animal Cohorts

The Collaboratory is also providing a data repository of large studies that could either provide data for analysis or collaborations.

We invite researchers to review the tables of both human and non-human cohorts available and as applicable, to submit their names/laboratories/data for inclusion.

Reserve and Resilience Investigators

Review research groups during a survey study undertaken by the Reserve, Resilience and Protective Factors Professional Interest Area (PIA) of the Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment.


Funding for the 3rd, 2nd and 1st Workshop was made possible in part by a grant (R24 AG061421) from the National Institute on Aging.



3rd, 2nd and 1st Workshop Sponsor

3rd and 1st Workshop Sponsor


Additional sponsors for the 1st Workshop:

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