Research Group Leader of Aging and Cognition at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
The goal of the Aging & Cognition Research Group is to understand mechanisms of cognitive aging both on the behavioural and the neurophysiological level. In addition, we develop sensitive markers of pathological decline, and we test novel interventional strategies to support neuroplasticity. To achieve these goals, the group focuses on navigational behaviour, which, in animal models of aging and dementia, has been shown to be particularly sensitive to the deleterious consequences of aging. Moreover, navigational impairments severely restrict the mobility of elderly people and affect (physical) activity and social participation, which are known risk factors for developing dementia. On the methodological level, we use cutting-edge virtual reality setups to study navigational behaviour under highly realistic yet controlled conditions. In addition, ultra-high field structural and functional neuroimaging and electrophysiological approaches serve to characterise the neurophysiological mechanisms that mediate age-related change and potential effects of therapeutic interventions. Finally, we are engaged in collaborations with animal neuroscientists and with groups who perform computational modelling studies, which provides us with a deeper understanding of the presumed neurophysiological mechanisms and which aids the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: cognitive aging – spatial navigation – virtual reality – dementia – MRI