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Highlights of the Research Results

Please find below a list of selected research results from all Centers of the Institute since 2011.

Plasticity beyond early development: Hypotheses and questions

Title:

Plasticity beyond early development: Hypotheses and questions

Plasticity beyond early development
© MIT Press
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

Applying insights from research on critical periods in early development, this chapter outlines a life-span research agenda on human plasticity and uses it as the conceptual foundation for a set of research hypotheses and open questions. Plasticity is defined as the capacity for lasting changes in brain structure associated with expansions in behavioral repertoire. As a complement to plasticity, flexibility refers to the instantiation and reconfiguration of the existing behavioral repertoire during periods of stability that are characterized by the absence of structural change. Mammalian and avian brains evolve through cycles of plasticity and stability, with a general trend towards stability. Animal work on critical periods in motor and sensory development substantiates three hypotheses that can serve as guideposts for research on plasticity in later age periods: First, likelihood, rate, and magnitude of plastic changes decrease after maturity. Second, when triggered, plastic changes often entail an overproduction of new synaptic connections, followed by pruning. Macroscopically, this sequence is associated by a pattern of grey matter volume expansion, followed by renormalization. Third, earlier plastic changes provide a structural scaffold for later learning. These hypotheses await empirical testing in humans, engender research design recommendations, and are related to fundamental open issues in research on human plasticity.

Lindenberger, U. (2018). Plasticity beyond early development: Hypotheses and questions. In A. A. Benasich & U. Ribary (Eds.), Emergent brain dynamics: Prebirth to adolescence (pp. 207–223). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Developmental Psychology

Title:

Developmental Psychology

Buchcover Entwicklungspsychologie
© Beltz
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

What does a newborn perceive? How do children learn to deal with emotions? When and how do our personalities evolve? How do cognitive abilities change in adulthood? – The content areas of developmental psychology are more wide-ranging and accessible than is the case for most other fields of psychology.

The textbook “Entwicklungspsychologie” – established by Rolf Oerter and Leo Montada – is regarded as the standard work in the field. Wolfgang Schneider and Ulman Lindenberger are the editors of its 8th edition.

Development is presented on the basis of two dimensions, by age (from prenatal development to very old age) and by domain (the development of perception, emotion, cognition, language, etc.). To conclude, 13 fields of practice are introduced, among others the media, preschool education, health, and productivity in old age.

Schneider, W., & Lindenberger, U. (Hrsg.). (2018). Entwicklungspsychologie [Developmental psychology] (8th ed.). Weinheim: Beltz.

Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain

Title:

Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain

Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain – Book Cover
© Niyogi Books
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

The monsoon is the season of pouring rain and intense emotions: love and longing, hope and fear, pleasure and pain, devotion and joyous excess. Through a series of evocative essays exploring rain-drenched worlds of poetry, songs, paintings, architecture, films, gardens, festivals, music and medicine, this lavishly illustrated collection examines the history of monsoon feelings in South Asia from the twelfth century to the present.

Each essay is written by a specialist in the field of South Asian arts and culture, and investigates emotions as reflections and agents of social, cultural and political change across borders of language and religion and between different arts and cultural practices. This history of emotions in the rain is as rich, surprising, beautiful and devastating as the thundering mosnoon clouds, and will delight general and scholarly audiences alike.

Schofield, K. R., Rajamani, I., & Pernau, M. (Eds.) (2018). Monsoon feelings: a history of emotions in the rain. New Delhi: Niyogi.

Health education films in the twentieth century

Title:

Health education films in the twentieth century

Cover Health Education Films
© University of Rochester Press
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

During the twentieth century, film came to be seen as a revolutionary technology that could entertain, document, instruct, and transform a mass audience. In the fields of medicine and public health, doctors, educators, health advocates, and politicians were especially enthusiastic about the potential of the motion picture for communicating about health-related topics, including sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, tuberculosis, smoking, alcoholism, and contraception.

Focusing on the period from the 1910s to the 1960s, this book is the first collection to examine the history of the public health education film in Europe and North America. It explores how a variety of commercial, governmental, medical, and public health organizations in Europe and North America turned to movies to educate the public, reform their health behaviors, and manage their anxieties and hopes about health, illness, and medical and public health interventions. Moreover, by looking at categories of movies as well as individual examples, the book tackles questions of the representativeness of individual films and the relationship between the public health film and other forms of motion picture.

Contributors: Christian Bonah, Tim Boon, David Cantor, Ursula von Keitz, Anja Laukötter, Elizabeth Lebas, Vincent Lowy, Miriam Posner, Kirsten Ostherr, Alexandre Sumpf

Bonah, Ch., Cantor, D., Laukötter, A. (Eds.)(2018). Health education films in the twentieth century. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture

Title:

Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture

Paper
© Elsevier
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Several theories of cognition distinguish between strategies that differ in the mental effort that their use requires. But how can the effort—or cognitive costs—associated with a strategy be conceptualized and measured? We propose an approach that decomposes the effort a strategy requires into the time costs associated with the demands for using specific cognitive resources. We refer to this approach as resource demand decomposition analysis (RDDA) and instantiate it in the cognitive architecture Adaptive Control of Thought–Rational (ACT-R).

ACT-R provides the means to develop computer simulations of the strategies. These simulations take into account how strategies interact with quantitative implementations of cognitive resources and incorporate the possibility of parallel processing. Using this approach, we quantified, decomposed, and compared the time costs of two prominent strategies for decision making, take-the-best and tallying. Because take-the-best often ignores information and foregoes information integration, it has been considered simpler than strategies like tallying. However, in both ACT-R simulations and an empirical study we found that under increasing cognitive demands the response times (i.e., time costs) of take-the-best sometimes exceeded those of tallying. The RDDA suggested that this pattern is driven by greater requirements for working memory updates, memory retrievals, and the coordination of mental actions when using take-the-best compared to tallying. The results illustrate that assessing the relative simplicity of strategies requires consideration of the overall cognitive system in which the strategies are embedded.

Fechner, H. B., Schooler, L. J., & Pachur, T. (2018). Cognitive costs of decision-making strategies: A resource demand decomposition with a cognitive architecture. Cognition, 170, 102-122. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.09.003

Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition

Title:

Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition

Cover Trends in Cognitive Science
© Elsevier
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

Research on human brain changes during skill acquisition has revealed brain volume expansion in task-relevant areas. However, the large number of skills that humans acquire during ontogeny militates against plasticity as a perpetual process of volume growth. Building on animal models and available theories, we promote the expansion–renormalization model for plastic changes in humans.

The model predicts an initial increase of gray matter structure, potentially reflecting growth of neural resources like neurons, synapses, and glial cells, which is followed by a selection process operating on this new tissue leading to a complete or partial return to baseline of the overall volume after selection has ended. The model sheds new light on available evidence and current debates and fosters the search for mechanistic explanations.

Wenger, E., Brozzoli, C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21,930–939. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2017.09.008

See also press release: The Brain Auditions Different Cells

Emotional Cities

Title:

Emotional Cities

Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

Emotional Cities offers an innovative account of the history of cities in the second half of the nineteenth century. Analyzing debates about emotions and urban change, it questions the assumed dissimilarity of the history of European and Middle Eastern cities during this period. The author shows that between 1860 and 1910, contemporaries in both Berlin and Cairo began to negotiate the transformation of the urban realm in terms of emotions. Looking at the ways in which a variety of urban dwellers, from psychologists to bar maids, framed recent changes in terms of their effect on love, honor, or disgust, the book reveals striking parallels between the histories of the two cities. By combining urban history and the history of emotions, Prestel proposes a new perspective on the emergence of different, yet comparable cities at the end of the nineteenth century.

Lint to publisher:
https://global.oup.com/academic/product/emotional-cities-9780198797562?c...

Prestel, J. B. (2017). Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-879756-2

Die Politik der Demütigung

Title:

Die Politik der Demütigung

Cover Die Politik der Demütigung
© S. Fischer
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

Humiliation practices are common, for example, in parenting and education, on the internet, in penal law, and in politics. Thus, after 1944, many French women accused of liaising with Germans were degraded by having their hair shorn in public.
Die Politik der Demütigung investigates humiliation as an instrument of power in public settings over the past 250 years, demonstrating that modernity never relinquished the pillory but simply reinvented it. It is no longer the state that shames and humiliates but society.

Link to publisher:
http://www.fischerverlage.de/buch/die_politik_der_demuetigung/9783103972221

Frevert, U. (2017). Die Politik der Demütigung: Schauplätze von Macht und Ohnmacht. Frankfurt: S. Fischer. ISBN: 978-3-10-397222-1

Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence Lifespan Psychology

Title:

Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence Lifespan Psychology

Cover Keresztes
© PNAS
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

Adaptive learning systems need to meet two complementary and partially conflicting goals: detecting regularities in the world versus remembering specific events. The hippocampus (HC) keeps a fine balance between computations that extract commonalities of incoming information (i.e., pattern completion) and computations that enable encoding of highly similar events into unique representations (i.e., pattern separation). Histological evidence from young rhesus monkeys suggests that HC development is characterized by the differential development of intrahippocampal subfields and associated networks. However, due to challenges in the in vivo investigation of such developmental organization, the ontogenetic timing of HC subfield maturation remains controversial. Delineating its course is important, as it directly influences the fine balance between pattern separation and pattern completion operations and, thus, developmental changes in learning and memory. Here, we relate in vivo, high-resolution structural magnetic resonance imaging data of HC subfields to behavioral memory performance in children aged 6–14 y and in young adults. We identify a multivariate profile of age-related differences in intrahippocampal structures and show that HC maturity as captured by this pattern is associated with age differences in the differential encoding of unique memory representations.

Significance
Children tend to extract schematic knowledge at the expense of learning and recollecting specific events. Our findings allow us to speculate that the heterogeneous development of subregions within the hippocampus—a brain region crucial for laying down novel memories—contributes to this developmental lag in memory. Specifically, we used in vivo high-resolution structural MRI and memory tests in a large sample of children aged 6–14 years and young adults to characterize hippocampal development. We show that hippocampal maturity as expressed in the multivariate pattern of age-related differences in hippocampal subregions is specifically related to the ability to lay down highly specific memories.

Keresztes, A., Bender, A. R., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., Shing, Y. L., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2017). Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114, 9212–9217. doi:10.1073/pnas.171065411

See also press release: Memory for Details Matures Gradually

Zornpolitik

Title:

Zornpolitik

Cover Zornpolitik
© SV
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

Many worry about the recent rise of right-wing populism and extremism in Germany. Racism against foreigners and refugees has reached new levels. Emotions like fear, hatred or anger obviously play a major role in this development. Uffa Jensen explores the role of such emotions in prejudices by discussing the modern history of anti-Semitism, islamophobia, and racism.

Jensen, U. (2017). Zornpolitik. Suhrkamp Verlag (edition suhrkamp 2720). ISBN: 978-3-518-12720-9