Barbara Shukitt-Hale is a USDA staff scientist at the Laboratory of Neuroscience, USDA-ARS, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Mass, USA, and an affiliate faculty member at the Psychology Department at Tufts University. She received her Ph.D. degree in experimental psychology from Boston University in 1993. Dr. Shukitt-Hale has been involved in research for 26 years, beginning when she was an undergraduate student at Boston University; this work earned her the Research Award, given at graduation to the best student researcher in the Psychology Department. Before coming to the HNRCA, she worked as a research psychologist at the Division of Health and Performance and as a neuroscientist at the Military Performance and Neuroscience Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM). Her current work involves researching the behavioral and neurochemical effects of aging in rodents, specifically investigating motor and cognitive performance changes due to oxidative stress, using the free-radical theory of aging as a working model. Her work includes determining the factors responsible for age-related behavioral changes and possible amelioration of these effects with various nutritional treatments. Her work showing that a diet supplemented with blueberry extract could reverse functional age-related deficits in motor and cognitive behavior has had a tremendous impact in the popular press. She continues to research the mechanisms behind the berry fruit’s positive effects and has found that they have direct effects on signaling to enhance neuronal communication, have the ability to buffer against excess calcium, enhance neuroprotective stress shock proteins, reduce stress signals and increase protective signals, and increase neurogenesis. She has published more than 157 articles and selected papers.
Biography Updated on 6 December 2009