Arthur F. Kramer

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Arthur F. Kramer
NationalityUnited States
Spouse(s)Laurie Kramer
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, Cognitive neuroscience, Aging
InstitutionsBeckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Northeastern University

Arthur F. Kramer is an academic, research scientist, and administrator in cognitive and brain health.[1] The majority of his career has been spent at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, which he helped to establish at the University of Illinois in 1989. As of May 2, 2016, Arthur Kramer became senior vice provost for research and graduate education at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.[1][2]


Arthur Kramer studied at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. There he met his future wife, Laurie Kramer, and earned his B.A.[3]

He joined the University of Illinois as a graduate student in 1979,[1] receiving his Ph.D. in cognitive and experimental psychology in 1984.[4][5]


Arthur Kramer accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Illinois in 1984, working with the departments of psychology, mechanical and industrial engineering, and the Institute of Aviation.[4] He helped to create the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, which opened in 1989,[1] and became the group coordinator of its Human Perception and Performance Unit.[4] He has served as co-director of the University of Illinois's Center for Healthy Minds, co-chaired the Beckman Institute's intelligent human-computer interaction group, and directed its biomedical imaging center.[1] He was named to the Swanlund Endowed Chair in Psychology in 2007.[6] He became director of the Beckman Institute in 2010.[1]

As of May 2, 2016, Arthur Kramer became senior vice provost for research and graduate education at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he will help to develop an interdisciplinary research center.[1]

Kramer is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and the International Society of Attention and Performance.[5] He has been on the editorial boards of a number of publications including Perception and Psychophysics.[5]


External video
video icon “Boosting Cognition and Brain Function“, Arthur Kramer, 2012, Technion Workshop
video icon “Exercise and the Brain“, Edward McAuley and Arthur Kramer, Beckman Institute

Kramer studies cognitive ability, and the brain structures and functions that support it across the human lifespan.[3] He is particularly interested in neural plasticity, the brain's ability to continue to grow and function effectively throughout life.[5] Kramer and his colleagues are credited with shaping the field of physical activity and brain health.[7] In 1999, in a randomized controlled design, they showed that older adults who participated in a 6-month period of aerobic training by walking showed a decreased response time to a stimulus compared to a group who did nonaerobic activities focused on flexibility.[8] Since then, Kramer has carried out studies of cognitive control of different types, that show that physical activity combats cognitive aging. They also suggest that the benefits of aerobic training are greater for tasks requiring cognitive control, and for attention, processing speed, memory.[7]

Structurally, Kramer's research suggests that exercise is related to changes in both cortical gray and white matter.[7][9] In children and older adults who exercise, the brain's white matter is denser and more fibrous. White matter carries signals between regions of the brain, and its compactness is linked to faster nerve activity. It generally deteriorates with age. Moreover, exercise, even in older adults, has been shown to increase white matter.[10]

Kramer has also been a lead investigator on studies of the relationships between brain structure and function and fluid intelligence. N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) has been identified as a biochemical marker of neural energy production and efficiency. Kramer has used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure NAA in areas of the brain, and relate them to measures of fluid intelligence for various skills. The concentration of NAA in areas associated with motor abilities was found to be related to measures of fluid intelligence related to visualization and planning.[11] [12] [13][14] [15]

Kramer has also been involved in research on human processing of information in response to the visual environment, examining eye movements, attention, memory, and other issues related to visual search. This research has used specially-created environments at the Beckman Institute,[3] such as its driving simulator[16][17][18] and its six-sided CUBE.[19] He has also been involved in a project to bring citizen scientists into the lab.[20]


Popular culture[edit]

  • Mention of exercise and brain aging research on Saturday Night Live, February 21, 2004[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Wurth, Julie (Jan 25, 2016). "Academic power couple leaving UI for Northeastern University". News Gazette. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  2. ^ St. Martin, Greg (January 6, 2016). "Northeastern appoints new senior vice provost for research". Campus & Community. Northeastern University. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "People: Kramer, Arthur F." University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the original on 28 December 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "VITA Arthur F. Kramer" (PDF). Northeastern University. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Senior Vice Provost for Research & Graduate Education". Northeastern University. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  6. ^ Forrest, Sharita (September 26, 2007). "Four named to Swanlund Chairs, university's premier endowed recognition". Illinois News Bureau. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment; Food and Nutrition Board; Institute of Medicine; Kohl, III, HW; Cook, HD (October 30, 2013). Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Washington (DC): National Academies Press. Retrieved 13 March 2017. ...the field was shaped by the findings of Kramer and colleagues (1999), who examined the effects of aerobic fitness training on older adults...
  8. ^ Kramer, Arthur F.; Hahn, Sowon; Cohen, Neal J.; Banich, Marie T.; McAuley, Edward; Harrison, Catherine R.; Chason, Julie; Vakil, Eli; Bardell, Lynn; Boileau, Richard A.; Colcombe, Angela (29 July 1999). "Ageing, fitness and neurocognitive function". Nature. 400 (6743): 418–419. doi:10.1038/22682. PMID 10440369.
  9. ^ Colcombe, Stanley; Kramer, Arthur F. (March 2003). "Fitness effects on the cognitive function of older adults: A Meta-Analytic study". Psychological Science. 14 (2): 125–130. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.t01-1-01430. PMID 12661673.
  10. ^ Mullin, Emily (April 6, 2015). "Is Fencing the answer to brain health?". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  11. ^ Fletcher, Bevin (Jan 25, 2016). "Brain Metabolism Linked to Fluid Intelligence". Bioscience Technology Online. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Brain metabolism predicts fluid intelligence in young adults". Science Daily. March 22, 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Brain markers of numeric, verbal and spatial reasoning abilities". Science Daily. June 20, 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  14. ^ Nikolaidis, Aki; Baniqued, Pauline L.; Kranz, Michael B.; Scavuzzo, Claire J.; Barbey, Aron K.; Kramer, Arthur F.; Larsen, Ryan J. (22 March 2016). "Multivariate Associations of Fluid Intelligence and NAA". Cerebral Cortex. 27 (4): 2607–2616. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhw070. PMID 27005991.
  15. ^ Paul, Erick J.; Larsen, Ryan J.; Nikolaidis, Aki; Ward, Nathan; Hillman, Charles H.; Cohen, Neal J.; Kramer, Arthur F.; Barbey, Aron K. (August 2016). "Dissociable brain biomarkers of fluid intelligence". NeuroImage. 137: 201–211. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.05.037. PMID 27184204.
  16. ^ Meyer, Antje S.; Wheeldon, Linda R.; Krott, Andrea (2006). Automaticity and control in language processing. Hove [England]: Psychology Press. p. 28. ISBN 9781841696508. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  17. ^ Gaspar, John G.; Neider, Mark B.; Kramer, Arthur F. (2013). "Falls Risk and Simulated Driving Performance in Older Adults". Journal of Aging Research. 2013: 1–8. doi:10.1155/2013/356948. PMC 3595928. PMID 23509627.
  18. ^ Yates, Diana (October 8, 2014). "Study: Talking while driving safest with someone who can see what you see". Illinois News Bureau. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  19. ^ Thomas, LE; Ambinder, MS; Hsieh, B; Levinthal, B; Crowell, JA; Irwin, DE; Kramer, AF; Lleras, A; Simons, DJ; Wang, RF (October 2006). "Fruitful visual search: inhibition of return in a virtual foraging task". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 13 (5): 891–5. doi:10.3758/BF03194015. PMID 17328391.
  20. ^ "Citizen Scientists!". Synergy. Beckman Institute. September 27, 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  21. ^ Chodzko-Zajko, Wojtek; Kramer, Arthur F.; Poon, Leonard W. (2009). Enhancing cognitive functioning and brain plasticity. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. p. 234. ISBN 978-0736057912.
  22. ^ "Large MURI Grants go to Projects Headed by Beckman Researchers". Beckman Institute. April 20, 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  23. ^ 2002 Annual Report (PDF). Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. 2003. p. 58.
  24. ^ "CAAD/Research Consortium Symposium on Research on Aging: Neurotrophins, Exercise and the Aging Brain". 2002 AAHPERD National Convention and Exposition. Retrieved 14 March 2017.