Teal Eich, assistant professor of gerontology and psychology, recently received research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer’s Association for her investigation into the role of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in Alzheimer’s disease. Eich, who arrived at USC in 2019, is a cognitive neuroscientist whose research explores age-related changes to memory, cognition and executive functioning.
GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger that can block certain signals from being transmitted in the brain and spinal cord. Per the Cleveland Clinic, GABA is thought to play important roles in reducing stress and anxiety and improving sleep, while a shortage or imbalance of GABA levels is associated with several conditions, such as depression and other mood disorders. Studies using animals have indicated that GABA plays a critical role in memory by regulating neuronal activity in the brain’s hippocampus.
The California Southland Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association named Eich a 2022 Research Grant recipient for her study of whether GABA levels can predict memory deficits in people at risk for Alzheimer’s. The award provides nearly $150,000 in research funding.
Eich also received an R01 grant from the National Institute on Aging to investigate the impact of sex on GABA, brain activity, and episodic memory in middle-aged and older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s. The grant provides more than $4 million in total funding over five years.