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Martin J. Sliwinski
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Director, Center for Healthy Aging
  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Research
  • Adulthood and Aging
  • Graduate Program
  • Methodology
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Currently Accepting Graduate Students
Office Address
402 BBH Building
University Park, PA 16802
Grants and Research Projects

My research interests cover a broad range of topics in the domain of aging and health, including cognition, dementia risk, stress, and emotion regulation. Much of my research is aimed at identifying risk and protective factors for dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and improving methods for the early detection of cognitive impairment. I’m particularly interested in how aspects of everyday experiences influence a person’s ability to memorize, reason and concentrate, and how these micro-level processes (e.g., everyday stress, affect, rumination) relate to long-term changes in mental, physical and cognitive health.

My current work is in the area of Mobile Cognitive Health and centers on using smartphones for obtaining high precision measurements of cognitive function and for assessing subtle variations and changes in cognitive performance in the context of everyday life. I collaborate on numerous projects with faculty in Human Development and Family Studies, Biobehavioral Health, Kinesiology, Sociology, and Psychology at Penn State, as well as with colleagues from other research institutions. Most of my effort is currently focused on the following endeavors:


Mobile Monitoring of Cognitive Change (M2C2)

The overall goal of this project is to develop infrastructure that provides the research community with open, flexible, and usable tools to enable scientific progress that depends on the sensitive and accurate measurement of cognitive change. This project has four overall aims:

  • Iterative Design and Rapid Piloting. We will establish rapid iterative piloting and test development procedures that accelerate our capacity to prototype, deploy, evaluate, and optimize candidate mobile cognitive tests to meet psychometric, accessibility, and engagement benchmarks.
  • Psychometric Evaluation of Reliability and Validity. We will evaluate reliability, construct validity, and longitudinal validity of mobile cognitive testing procedures in a racially diverse probability sample.
  • Replication and Norming. Third, we replicate psychometric results in an independent, nationally representative probability based sample, and create nationally representative norms.
  • Extension and Dissemination. And fourth, we will test our pipeline and procedures for incorporating new measures into the mobile assessment infrastructure by evaluating novel measures for inclusion that are nominated by investigators outside of our immediate research team.

M2C2 also supports several other projects using ambulatory cognitive measurements, including a randomized clinical trial to evaluate a dietary intervention to reduce risk for cognitive impairment; a longitudinal study to evaluate the effect of heading on neuro-cognitive function; the effect of fibromyalgia on daily variation in cognitive function; the effects of “chemo-brain”, evaluation of psychosocial mechanisms underlying cognitive training effects, and the early identification of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in the Einstein Aging Study.


Einstein Aging Study (EAS)

Cognitive decline is a defining feature of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), as well as a necessary criterion for making a DSM-V diagnosis of major neurocognitive disorder. Tracking cognitive change is also central to clinical and research applications focused on normative cognitive aging and the preclinical stages of neurodegenerative disease. Traditional approaches to measuring cognition are, however, hampered by retrospective reporting biases and inaccuracies, unmeasured sources of within-person variability, and the artificial nature of the testing environment. In this project, we address these problems by using mobile technology (e.g., smartphones, wearable sensors) to more accurately characterize objective cognitive performance by averaging across random sources of within-person variability and improve the accuracy of subjective cognitive measurements by allowing individuals to report on cognitive failures and problems close in time to their experiences. We will also use ambulatory methods to study the ‘real-time’ relationships between risk exposures (e.g., stress, pain, poor sleep) and cognitive function in daily life, which can provide novel opportunities for developing personalized and time-sensitive interventions.


The FaceAge Experience

FaceAge is an award-winning video program that weaves together interconnected chapters in which pairs of younger and older individuals reflect on life while studying and describing each other’s faces. The video was created by Andy Belser, Director of the Penn State Arts and Design Research Incubator (ADRI), and provides a platform that is adaptable to a broad range of topics and educational settings. Building off this film, we are designing curriculum that uses the lens of aging to generate engaged learning opportunities around topics that include racial bias, health and wellness, socio-economic concerns, and gender/sexual identify. To learn more, contact Dr. Amy Lorek ( in the Center for Healthy Aging.



Sliwinski, M. J., Mogle, J. A., Hyun, J., Munoz, E., Smyth, J. M., & Lipton, R. B. (2018). Reliability and validity of ambulatory cognitive assessments. Assessment, 25, 14-30.

Hyun J, Sliwinski MJ, Smyth JM. (2018). Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed: The Effects of Stress Anticipation on Working Memory in Daily Life. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. PMID 29767767 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gby042

Scott SB, Kim J, Smyth JM , Almeida DM, Sliwinski MJ. (2018). Additive Effects of Forecasted and Reported Stressors on Negative Affect. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. PMID 29878185 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gby068

Hyun, J., Sliwinski, M. J., Almeida, D. M., Smyth, J. M., & Scott, S. B. (2018). The moderating effects of aging and cognitive abilities on the association between work stress and negative affect. Aging & mental Health, 22, 611-618.

Neubauer AB, Smyth JM, Sliwinski MJ. Age Differences in Proactive Coping With Minor Hassles in Daily Life. (2018). The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. PMID 29931247 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gby061

Neupert, S. D., Neubauer, A. B., Scott, S. B., Hyun, J., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2018). Back to the future: Examining age differences in processes before stressor exposure. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

Zhaoyang R, Sliwinski MJ, Martire LM, Smyth JM. (2018). Age differences in adults' daily social interactions: An ecological momentary assessment study. Psychology and Aging. PMID 29708385 DOI: 10.1037/pag0000242

Zawadzki, M. J., Sliwinski, M. J., & Smyth, J. M. (2018). Perseverative cognitions and stress exposure: Comparing relationships with psychological health across a diverse adult sample. Annals of Behavioral Medicine: a Publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. PMID 29617706 DOI: 10.1093/abm/kay009

Stewart, W. F., Kim, N., Ifrah, C., Sliwinski, M., Zimmerman, M. E., Kim, M., . . . Lipton, M. L. (2018). Heading frequency is more strongly related to cognitive performance than unintentional head impacts in amateur soccer players. Frontiers in Neurology, 9. PMID: 29740384 DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00240

Slavish, D. C., Sliwinski, M. J., Smyth, J. M., Almeida, D. M., Lipton, R. B., Katz, M. J., & Graham-Engeland, J. E. (2018). Neuroticism, rumination, negative affect, and sleep: Examining between-and within-person associations. Personality and Individual Differences, 123, 217-222. PMID 29610545 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.11.023

Munoz E, Stawski RS, Sliwinski MJ, Smyth JM, MacDonald SWS. (2018) The Ups and Downs of Cognitive Function: Neuroticism and Negative Affect Drive Performance Inconsistency. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. PMID 29590450 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gby032

Lipton, M. L., Ifrah, C., Stewart, W. F., Fleysher, R., Sliwinski, M. J., Kim, M., & Lipton, R. B. (2018). Validation of HeadCount-2w for estimation of two-week heading: Comparison to daily reporting in adult amateur player. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 21, 363-367. PMID: 28882435 DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2017.08.008

Mathur, A., Graham-Engeland, J. E., Slavish, D. C., Smyth, J. M., Lipton, R. B., Katz, M. J., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2018). Recalled early life adversity and pain: the role of mood, sleep, optimism, and control. Journal of behavioral medicine, 1-12.

DePasquale, N., Sliwinski, M. J., Zarit, S. H., Buxton, O. M., & Almeida, D. M. (2018). Unpaid Caregiving Roles and Sleep Among Women Working in Nursing Homes: A Longitudinal Study. The Gerontologist. PMID 29360993 DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnx185

Mogle, J., Muñoz, E., Hill, N. L., Smyth, J. M., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2017). Daily memory lapses in adults: Characterization and influence on affect. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. PMID 28329832 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbx012

Phibbs, S., Stawski, R. S., MacDonald, S. W., Munoz, E., Smyth, J. M., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2017). The influence of social support and perceived stress on response time inconsistency. Aging & mental health, 1-8. PMID: 29171959 DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1399339

Scott, S. B., Ram, N., Smyth, J. M., Almeida, D. M., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2017). Age differences in negative emotional responses to daily stressors depend on time since event. Developmental psychology, 53, 177. PMID: 28026195 DOI: 10.1037/dev0000257

Scott, S. B., Munoz, E., Mogle, J. A., Gamaldo, A. A., Smyth, J. M., Almeida, D. M., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2017). Perceived neighborhood characteristics predict severity and emotional response to daily stressors. Social Science & Medicine, 200, 262-270. PMID 29191514 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.010

Zhaoyang, R., Martire, L. M., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2017). Morning self-efficacy predicts physical activity throughout the day in knee osteoarthritis. Health Psychology, 36, 568. PMID: 28277696 DOI: 10.1037/hea0000479

Bielak, A. A., Mogle, J., & Sliwinski, M. J. (2017). What Did You Do Today? Variability in Daily Activities is Related to Variability in Daily Cognitive Performance. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. PMID 29240950 DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbx145

Neubauer AB, Smyth JM, Sliwinski MJ. (2017). When You See It Coming: Stressor Anticipation Modulates Stress Effects on Negative Affect. Emotion. PMID 29154583 DOI: 10.1037/emo0000381

Smyth JM, Sliwinski MJ, Zawadzki MJ, Scott SB, Conroy DE, Lanza ST, Marcusson-Clavertz D, Kim J, Stawski RS, Stoney CM, Buxton OM, Sciamanna CN, Green PM, Almeida DM. (2017) Everyday stress response targets in the science of behavior change. Behaviour Research and Therapy. PMID 29031538 DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.09.009

    Additional Information

    Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), mobile health; cognitive aging; adult development; stress and health; intensive measurements designs (measurement bursts, experience sampling, EMA)