Brain Imaging Methods in Lifespan Psychology

Research on human development seeks to delineate the variable and invariant properties of age-graded changes in the organization of brain–behavior–environment systems. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) have become indispensable tools for the noninvasive assessment of brain function, anatomy, microstructure, and metabolism. This project seeks to ascertain and improve the measurement quality of standard brain imaging protocols and to complement the standard repertoire by additional methods that carry promise for understanding the ways in which brains change as a function of maturation, learning, and senescence.

Das MRT-Labor | Forschungsprojekte im Bereich Entwicklungspsychologie
© MPI fuer Bildungsforschung

Central questions in lifespan psychology often are about the range and direction of change and variability, be it longitudinal change observed over years and decades, intervention-induced change over weeks and months, or fluctuations that occur from day to day and from moment to moment. Random measurement error and systematic drifts can compromise the reliable measurement of change. Hence, the project takes a special interest in exploring, safeguarding, and improving the precision and temporal stability of measurement.

MR Lab

MRT Team

More information about the MR Lab can be found here.

Imaging Methods of Special Interest

The project has begun to explore a range of imaging modalities that are of particular relevance for lifespan research. More about two of these methods can be found here:

Recent Publications

Bender, A. R., Keresztes, A., Bodammer, N. C., Shing, Y. L., Werkle-Bergner, M., Daugherty, A. M., ... Raz, N. (2018). Optimization and validation of automated hippocampal subfield segmentation across the lifespan. Human Brain Mapping, 39, 916–931. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.23891

Brandmaier, A. M., Wenger, E., Bodammer, N. C., Kühn, S., Raz, N., & Lindenberger, U. (2018). Assessing reliability in neuroimaging research through intra-class effect decomposition (ICED). eLife, 7: e35718. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.35718

Stanley, J. A., & Raz, N. (2018). Functional magnetic resonance spectroscopy: The "new" MRS for cognitive neuroscience and psychiatry research. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9: 76. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00076

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. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas. 1710654114

Project Leader


Nils C. Bodammer
Ulman Lindenberger
Naftali Raz
Davide Santoro

Sonali Beckmann (head of MRI measurement facility)
Nadine Taube (technical assistant)

MRI Procedures and Engineering in the Intranet

Only available to Staff

How-tos, technical resources, quality assessment, and news can be found here.

Key References

Bellander, M., Berggren, R., Mårtensson, J., Brehmer, Y., Wenger, E., Li, T.-Q., Bodammer, N. C., Shing, Y. L., Werkle-Bergner, M., & Lövdén, M. (2016). Behavioral correlates of changes in hippocampal grey matter structure during acquisition of foreign vocabulary. NeuroImage, 131, 205–213. doi: 10.1016/ j.neuroimage.2015.10.020

Kleemeyer, M. M., Kühn, S., Prindle, J., Bodammer, N. C., Brechtel, L., Garthe, A., Kempermann, G., Schaefer, S., & Lindenberger, U. (2016). Changes in fitness are associated with changes in hippocampal microstructure and hippocampal volume in older adults. NeuroImage, 131, 155–161. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015. 11.026

Kleemeyer, M. M., Polk, T. A., Schaefer, S., Bodammer, N. C., Brechtel, L., & Lindenberger, U. (2017). Exercise-induced fitness changes correlate with changes in neural specificity in older adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11:123. doi: 10.3389/fnhum. 2017.00123

Wenger, E., Kühn, S., Verrel, J., Mårtensson, J., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Repeated structural imaging reveals non-linear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 27, 2911–2925. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw141

Master Theses


Maximilian Michael Wichmann (Medical Physics, Technische Universität Dortmund):
Reliability of Principal Fibre Tract Orientation Using Different High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging Methods


Paul Enggruber & Felix Kreis (Physics, Technische Universität Berlin):
Development of Three-dimensional Spectrally Selective Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Analysing Metabolism in the Human Brain


Tian Yang (Medical Technology, Technische Universität Berlin):
Measurement of Image Artifacts in Simultaneous Application of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)