Lifespan Psychology

Founded in 1981 by the late Paul B. Baltes, the Center for Lifespan Psychology (LIP) at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has helped to establish lifespan psychology as a distinct conceptual approach within developmental psychology. Since 2004, the Center has extended its research program into developmental behavioral neuroscience. Work at the Center is guided by three propositions:

  • to study lifespan changes in behavior as interactions among maturation, learning, and senescence;
  • to develop theories and methods that integrate empirical evidence across domains of functioning, timescales, as well as behavioral and neural levels of analysis;
  • to identify mechanisms of development by exploring age-graded differences in plasticity.

The Center continues to pay special attention to the age periods of late adulthood and old age, which offer unique opportunities for innovation, both in theory and practice. At the same time, it has continuously increased its research on behavioral development during earlier periods of life.

A Philosopher of the Enlightenment Era: Tetens


"But ... its eminent modifiability, and its predisposition to self-initiated action, may it develop little or much, and may it differ in amount between different individuals, is among the immutable features of humankind, which can be found whereever humans exist."

Johann Nicolaus Tetens (1736-1807), philosopher of the Enlightenment Era

The Center's Projects

The Center for Lifespan Psychology's eight projects follow its guiding propositions and examine different facets of human development across the lifespan. Further information is available under Projects.

Selected Recent Publications

Hecht, M., Hardt, K., Driver, C. C., & Voelkle, C. M. (in press). Bayesian continuous-time Rasch models. Psychological Methods.

Beese, C., Werkle-Bergner, M., Lindenberger, U., Friederici, A. D., & Meyer, L. (2019). Adult age differences in the benefit of syntactic and semantic constraints for sentence processing. Psychology and Aging, 34, 43–55. https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000300

Jacobucci, R., Brandmaier, A. M., & Kievit, R. A. (2019). A practical guide to variable selection in structural equation modeling using regularized multiple-indicators, multiple-causes models. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 2, 55–76. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515245919826527

Karalija, N., Papenberg, G., Wåhlin, A., Johansson, J., Andersson, M., ... Lindenberger, U., ... Nyberg, L. (2019). C957T-mediated variation in ligand affinity affects the association between 11C-raclopride binding potential and cognition. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 31, 314–325. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01354

Kloosterman, N. A., de Gee, J. W., Werkle-Bergner, M., Lindenberger, U., Garrett, D. D., & Fahrenfort, J. J. (2019). Humans strategically shift decision bias by flexibly adjusting sensory evidence accumulation in visual cortex. eLife, 8: e37321. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.37321

Muehlroth, B. E., Sander, M. C., Fandakova, Y., Grandy, T. H., Rasch, B., Shing, Y. L., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2019). Precise slow oscillation-spindle coupling promotes memory consolidation in younger and older adults. Scientific Reports, 9: 1940. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36557-z

Müller, V., Delius, J. A. M., & Lindenberger, U. (2019). Hyper-frequency network topology changes during choral singing. Frontiers in Physiology, 10: 207. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00207

Salami, A., Garrett, D., Wahlin, A., Rieckmann, A., ... Karalija, N., ... Lindenberger, U., ... Nyberg, L. (2019). Dopamine D2/3 binding potential modulates neural signatures of working memory in a load-dependent fashion. Journal of Neuroscience, 39, 537–547. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1493-18.2018

Tucker-Drob, E. M., Brandmaier, A. M., & Lindenberger, U. (2019). Coupled cognitive changes in adulthood: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 145, 273–301. https://doi.org/10.1037/bul0000179

Voelkle, M. C., Gische, C., Driver, C. C., & Lindenberger, U. (2019). The role of time in the quest for understanding psychological mechanisms. Multivariate Behavioral Research.  Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/00273171.2018.1496813

Wiegand, I., & Sander, M. C. (2019). Cue-related processing accounts for age differences in phasic alerting. Neurobiology of Aging. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2019.03.017

Ghisletta, P., Burra, E. J., Aichele, S., Lindenberger, U., & Schmiedek, F. (2018). Age differences in day-to-day speed-accuracy tradeoffs: Results from the COGITO study. Multivariate Behavioral Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/00273171.2018.1463194

Selmeczy, D., Fandakova, Y., Grimm, K. J., Bunge, S. A., & Ghetti, S. (2018). Longitudinal trajectories of hippocampal and prefrontal contributions to episodic retrieval: Effects of age and puberty. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2018.10.003

Kühn, S., Düzel, S., Colzato, L., Norman, K., ... Brandmaier, A. M., Lindenberger, U., & Widaman, K. F. (2017). Food for thought: Association between dietary tyrosine and cognitive performance in younger and older adults. Psychological Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0957-4

See also Publications.

Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research

MPS UCL Centre Logo

Cooperation With University College London (UCL)

The Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research was launched in April 2014. It is based on an initiative by scientists from the Max Planck Society and UCL targeting the development and application of computational methods that reorganize and improve our understanding of mental illness and behavioral aging.

Further information


Ulman Lindenberger
Portrait Ulman Lindenberger
© Arne Sattler
seklindenberger [at] mpib-berlin [dot] mpg [dot] de

Research Report

Research Report 2014 bis 2016

The Institute's Research Report provides more information on the Center for Lifespan Psychology.


Buchcover Entwicklungspsychologie
© Beltz

New edition of textbook on developmental psychology published.
Further information (in German)



Liefebrain Logo

The Berlin Aging Studies BASE and BASE-II are participating in Lifebrain, an EU funded project. It integrates data from 6000 participants in 11 European neuroimaging studies carried out in 7 countries.

Website: www.lifebrain.uio.no

Walhovd, K. B., Fjell, A. M., Westerhausen, R., Nyberg, L., Ebmeier, K. P., Lindenberger, U., ... for Lifebrain Consortium. (2018). Healthy minds from 0–100 years: Optimising the use of European brain imaging cohorts ("Lifebrain"). European Psychiatry, 50, 47–56. https://doi.org/ 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2017.12.006

In Memoriam

Paul B. Baltes Porträt

Paul B. Baltes

1980–2004 Director of the Center for Lifespan Psychology

Further information