In September 2012, the Center for Neurocognitive Studies (CNS) was established as a National Institutes of Nursing Research (NINR) Center of Research Excellence. The focus of the Center is the interdisciplinary study of cognitive and affective symptoms and their interactions in the context of chronic illness and its overarching goal is to promote, sustain, and expand the scientific study of affect and cognition in chronic illness. Since nursing is centrally and vitally involved in the care and management of chronic illnesses, the Center also seeks to provide an evidence base for improved care and management practices.

Chronic disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and mounting evidence points to the detrimental impact of many chronic illnesses on neurocognitive functioning. 

Conceptual Framework Diagram

Chronic illness:

  • can affect functionality
  • is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety
  • has direct negative impact on neurocognitive functioning

Neurocognitive impairment and emotional distress directly impact chronic illness:

  • by reducing capacity and motivation for self-care
  • by negatively affecting immune function and worsening the disease

The existence of one symptom potentially compounds the effect of the other.

  • Affective and cognitive symptoms can cause a negative course of illness through both physiological and behavioral pathways
  • Disruption of pathways has potential to reduce negative progression of disease

Overall Goals of CNS

  • Improve knowledge of biological and behavioral  mechanisms associated with cognitive and affective symptoms in chronic illness

  • Design interventions to improve the assessment and management of cognitive and affective symptoms over the course of disease trajectories

  • Expand cross-disciplinary research to further empirical understanding and treatment of cognitive and affective symptoms in chronic disease.