Karin Schon, Ph.D., received a joint B.A./M.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Hamburg in Germany in 1998, and her Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology at Boston University in 2005. Her dissertation focused on functional neuroimaging studies of working memory and long-term (episodic) memory formation under the mentorship of Prof. Chantal Stern. She then continued her work with Prof. Stern as a Postdoc. In 2010 she received a Pathway to Independence Career Development award from the National Institute on Aging to investigate the effects or cardio-respiratory fitness and exercise on the function and structure of the medial temporal hippocampal memory system. In May 2013 she joined the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the Boston University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor where she is the Director of the Brain Plasticity and Neuroimaging Laboratory.
Dr. Schon’s brain plasticity research focuses on modulators of the medial temporal hippocampal system across the lifespan. Currently, she investigates the role of aerobic exercise, aging, and, more recently, chronic psychosocial stress, as modulators of cognitive function and brain health in aging and Alzheimer’s disease in humans. With her cognitive neuroscience research on chronic psychosocial stress she aims to take an anti-racist perspective by focusing on the impact of interpersonal and institutional racism on brain health in older African Americans. The long-term goal of this research to contribute to health policy change from a cognitive neuroscience perspective with the goal to eliminate brain health inequities.
Methods used include: Task-based, resting-state and high-resolution fMRI, structural MRI, cognitive testing, neuropsychology, exercise testing and training, and biomarker assays (e.g. neurotrophins, such as BDNF, IGF-1, and VEGF; salivary cortisol).
Keywords: cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neurobiology, brain plasticity, hippocampus, amygdala, medial temporal lobes, MRI, fMRI, episodic memory, emotion, aging, Alzheimer's disease, health disparities / inequities, chronic psychosocial stress, racism, discrimination, resilience, social and societal contributors to brain aging and brain health.