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

Adolf, J. K., Voelkle, M. C., Brose, A., & Schmiedek, F. (2017). Capturing context-related change in emotional dynamics via fixed moderated time series analysis. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 52, 499–531. doi: 10.1080/00273171.2017.1321978

Bender, A. R., Naveh-Benjamin, M., Amann, K., & Raz, N. (2017). The role of stimulus complexity and salience in memory for face–name associations in healthy adults: Friend or foe? Psychology and Aging, 32, 489–505. doi: 10.1037/pag0000185

Brandmaier, A. M., Ram, N., Wagner, G. G., & Gerstorf, D. (2017). Terminal decline in well-being: The role of multi-indicator constellations of physical health and psychosocial correlates. Developmental Psychology, 53, 996–1012. doi: 10.1037/dev0000274

Brod, G., Bunge, S. A., & Shing, Y. L. (2017). Does one year of schooling improve children's cognitive control and alter associated brain activation? Psychological Science, 28, 967–978. doi: 10.1177/0956797617699838

Garrett, D. D., Lindenberger, U., Hoge, R., & Gauthier, C. J. (2017). Age differences in brain signal variability are robust to multiple vascular controls. Scientific Reports, 7:10149. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09752-7

Hertzog, C., Lövdén, M., Lindenberger, U., & Schmiedek, F. (2017). Age differences in coupling of intraindividual variability in mnemonic strategies and practice-related associative recall improvements. Psychology and Aging, 32, 557–571. doi: 10.1037/ pag0000177

Filevich, E., Lisofsky, N., Becker, M., Butler, O., Lochstet, M., Mårtensson, J., ... Wenger, E., Lindenberger, U., & Kühn, S. (2017). Day2day: Investigating daily variability of magnetic resonance imaging measures over half a year. BMC Neuroscience, 18:65. doi: 10.1186/s12868-017-0383-y

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.1710654114

Kievit, R. A., Lindenberger, U., Goodyer, I., Jones, P. B., Fonagy, P., Bullmore, E. T., ... Dolan, R. J. (2017). Mutualistic coupling between vocabulary and reasoning supports cognitive development during late adolescence and early adulthood. Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0956797617710785

Kleinert, M.-L., Szymanski, C., & Müller, V. (2017). Frequency-unspecific effects of θ-tACS related to a visuospatial working memory task. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11:367. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00367

Kühn, S., Düzel, S., Eibich, P., Krekel, C., Wüstemann, H., ... Wagner, G. G., & Lindenberger, U. (2017). In search of features that constitute an "enriched environment" in humans: Associations between geographical properties and brain structure. Scientific Reports, 7: 11920. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-12046-7

Lindenberger, U., Wenger, E., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Towards a stronger science of human plasticity. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 18, 261–262. doi: 10.1038/nrn.2017.44

Pannunzi, M., Wenger, E., Lisofsky, N., Martensson, J., Butler, O., Filevich, E., ... Lindenberger, U., Kühn, S., & Deco, G. (2017). Resting-state fMRI correlations: From link-wise unreliability to whole brain stability. NeuroImage, 157, 250–262. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.06.006

Perdikis, D., Volhard, J., Müller, V., Kaulard, K., Brick, T. R., Wallraven, C., & Lindenberger, U. (2017). Brain synchronization during perception of facial emotional expressions with natural and unnatural dynamics. PLoS ONE, 2(7): e0181225. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181225

Szymanski, C., Pesquita, A., Brennan, A. A., Perdikis, D., ... Brick, T. R., ... Müller, V., & Lindenberger, U. (2017). Teams on the same wavelength perform better: Inter-brain phase synchronization constitutes a neural substrate for social facilitation. NeuroImage, 152, 425–436. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.013

Wenger, E., Brozzoli, C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (in press). Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

See also here.

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
Ulman Lindenberger Porträt
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.

COGITO Conference 2016

An international conference entitled "The COGITO Study: Looking at 100 Days Ten Years After“ took place in October 2016. Various world-leading behavioral scientists participated. More information can be found here.

Cover Programmheft
© Foto: David Ausserhofer


LIFE is a graduate program of the Max Planck Society. Human development across the lifespan is its research topic.

More information on LIFE


In Memoriam

Paul B. Baltes Porträt

Paul B. Baltes

1980–2004 Director of the Center for Lifespan Psychology

Further information