Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Alison Balbag

As a trained and professional musician, Alison's work seeks to investigate and better understand music's effects on aging across the lifespan. Because music is such a unique and complex process and medium, she is interested in its influences on our mental and physical health, whether performing Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 or listening to Miles Davis. Her work also aims to further study the relationship between music memory and Alzheimer's, exploring music's potential as a neuroprotective agent. Because music is a universal, non-pharmacological, and non-invasive medium that all cultures experience, she believes advancements in this direction can serve a large and diverse population.

Alison received her DMA, MM and BM degrees in harp performance from USC's Thornton School of Music, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Gerontology at USC's Davis School of Gerontology. Winner of numerous competitions, she has performed with orchestras nationwide and with artists ranging from Itzhak Perlman to Stevie Wonder. Alison is funded as an NIA-NRSA trainee on the Multidisciplinary Research Training grant in Gerontology at USC.

Jung Jang

Jung is interested in identifying biological and behavioral markers of emotional dysfunction in patients with dementia. In particular, she would like to study neural substrates of motivation to better understand underlying mechanisms of apathy in dementia patients, genetic and environmental risk (or protective) factors, and possible intervention strategies. She is advised by Dr. Margaret Gatz and Dr. Antonio Damasio.

Jung received a B.A. in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She worked as a research assistant for Dr. Robert Levenson at Berkeley Psychophysiology Lab and Dr. David Matsumoto at The Culture and Emotion Research Lab. Prior to coming to USC, she was a research coordinator at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, working for the frontotemporal dementia program project grant.

Carlos Alberto Rodriguez

Carlos’ research focuses on identifying modifiable risk factors of dementia, and on improving the assessment of dementia in culturally diverse communities. His current study documents perceptions of dementia among Latinos in an effort to understand help-seeking behaviors and barriers to dementia care in this population. This data will also inform the development and evaluation of a fotonovela (a comic-book style literary format with soap-opera themes) to educate Latino families on dementia symptoms and treatment.

Before coming to USC, Carlos was selected as a 2-year NIMH-COR Fellow at California State University, Long Beach. As a COR Fellow, he managed Dr. Sherry Span’s lab at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, investigating the link between ADHD, mood, and anxiety disorders in the substance of choice of veterans enrolled in a substance-abuse rehabilitation program. During the same time, Carlos won the 2007 Florida Mental Health Institute’s Outstanding Research Award as an NSF Summer Fellow at the University of South Florida for his paper on depressive symptoms as a risk factor for alcohol abuse in older adults.