The research of the Aging and Cognition Group pursues three overall aims. Firstly, we seek to characterise neural mechanisms underlying cognitive decline in typical and atypical aging. A central focus of our work are changes in spatial navigation, a function of critical importance for everyday life that recruits (sub-)cortical structures known to be particularly sensitive to age-related structural and functional change. In addition, we study generic mechanisms of age-related change (i.e. neural dedifferentiation) that are likely to contribute to a variety of cognitive deficits in old age and early dementia.
Secondly, we develop neurobiologically inspired behavioural interventions to counteract changes in neural information processing in the aging brain. This work targets specific neural processes (i.e. improving memory consolidation by promoting neural replay), aims to stimulate neural plasticity, or seeks to prevent / reverse cognitive decline by training novel cognitive strategies.
Finally, we develop theoretically motivated diagnostic tools to improve the assessment of cognitive dysfunction in healthy aging and preclinical stages of dementia. Specifically, we develop novel tests targeting specific navigational computations known to be carried out in dedicated (sub-)cortical modules. The long-term goal of this line of work is to establish validated tools that can (i) be used for standardised neuropsychological assessment in clinical settings and (ii) serve as cognitive endpoints in clinical studies.
To achieve these aims, the group employs a multipronged methodological approach encompassing interactive virtual reality, structural and functional neuroimaging, electrophysiology, and eye tracking. The group entertains multiple national and international cooperations that broaden the scope of our approach with computational modelling, human lesion studies and animal experiments. For further information about specific research strands, please click on the following topics: