Experience Corps is a volunteer service program for older persons 55 years and older, in which they actively participate as agents of learning within Baltimore City public school classrooms, aiding and assisting students in grades K-3.


The Baltimore Experience Corps Trial, a collaboration between Experience Corps, Johns Hopkins, the Greater Homewood Community Corp., is a research study aimed at determining if a new model of senior service improves the educational outcomes of children in elementary schools in Baltimore, as well as the health and functional status of older adults.

A follow-up study is currently underway to to examine the long-term impact of the Baltimore City Experience Corps program on key outcomes related to functional independence, and risk for Alzheimer’s disease, frailty, and mortality.   

Brain Health Substudy (BHS)

The Brain Health Substudy is a nested trial within the larger Baltimore Experience Corps Trial, which seeks to determine whether Experience Corps, a volunteer program aimed at serving both the older adult and adolescent populations through a multi-modal activity intervention design, will directly result in neurocognitive changes in executive function as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging. Spearheaded by Dr. Michelle Carlson, the Brain Health Study has been in existence since 2006, and is based out of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, with affiliations within the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and Kennedy Krieger Institute.The primary aim of the study is to investigate the cognitive, physical, and social outcomes associated with older adult participation in the Baltimore Experience Corps program. Through annual visits, consisting of cognitive functioning tests, lifestyle activity questionnaires, measures of physical/sensory functioning, and an MRI scan (conducted at Kennedy Krieger Institute), we hope to better understand the impact of this program on older adults’ health over time.

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Stimulation With Intricate Movements (SWIM) Study

AIM: To assess the feasibility and short-term impact of an immersive, interactive computer game, called Bandit the Dolphin, on the cognitive and functional health of aging adults living in the community.

Developed by the KATA team in the Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement Lab at Johns Hopkins for post-stroke rehabilitation.

SWIM provides an oceanic environment in which the individual’s arm movements control a simulated dolphin. 

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Optimizing Cognitive, Environmental, and Neuromotor Stimulation in Traumatic Brain Injury (OCEANS-TBI) Study

AIM: To determine the efficacy of a complex cognitive-motor exergame, Bandit the Dolphin, on cognition, brain biomarkers, lifestyle activities, and independent activities of daily living in patients with past traumatic brain injury 


The goal of this study is to pilot, test, and validate real-time survey methods of lifestyle activities in day-to-day life using mobile Smartphone and GPS devices in neurocognitively well characterized older adults at risk for Dementia; the ultimate goal is to link in- and out-of-home activity patterns to neuro-cognitive and functional health.

We are working in collaboration with Ciprian Crainiceanu and Vadim Zipunnikov from the SMART group to pilot commercially available and cost-effective smartphone and wearable GPS technology to yield valid and reliable methods to unobtrusively gather real-time-data on everyday social, physical, and functional activity outside participants home in their social environment.


The study was conducted primarily to determine if ginkgo would decrease the incidence of all types of dementia and, more specifically, reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Secondarily, the study evaluated ginkgo for its effects on overall cognitive decline, functional disability, incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and total mortality. The primary endpoint was the diagnosis of dementia as determined by an expert panel of clinicians using standard criteria for diagnosis. The patients with a diagnosis of dementia underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans to determine their dementia type.


Study participants were followed for an average of approximately 6 years (maximum of just over 7 years). During the study, 523 of the 3,069 enrolled participants were diagnosed with dementia, 246 in the placebo group and 277 in the ginkgo group. Thus, ginkgo showed no overall effect for reducing all types of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, in analyzing safety data, the GEM study did not find significant adverse effects from ginkgo, in particular there was no evidence for increased bleeding risk in persons taking ginkgo.


The GEM results will prove useful in determining how many participants are needed in future trials to provide clinically significant measures on outcomes such as occurrence of dementia. Future analysis of this study may also identify subgroups of these participants who may be at greater risk for developing dementia.


The CHS is a prospective population-based cohort study of risk factors for CHD and stroke in adults 65 years and older. In June 1990, four Field Centers completed the recruitment of 5201 participants. Between November 1992 and June 1993, an additional 687 African Americans were recruited using similar methods. The Field Centers are located in Forsyth County, NC; Sacramento County, CA; Washington County, MD; and Pittsburgh, PA. The baseline examinations consisted of a home interview and a clinic examination that assessed not only traditional risk factors but also measures of subclinical disease, including carotid ultrasound, echocardiography, electrocardiography, and pulmonary function. Since 1999, participants have been contacted twice a year by telephone to collect limited data, including medication data, and to identify all hospitalizations and potential cardiovascular events. CHS currently plans to follow participants for events that occur through 2006. Participants have also been invited to participate in a clinic or home visit as part of the CHS All Stars Study which begins the seventeenth year of data collection and includes follow-up for events. The six-month contact of this current data collection cycle is also underway.