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:


Nils C. Bodammer (project leader)
Ulman Lindenberger

Davide Santoro (postdoc)

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

Wenger, E., Kühn, S., Verrel, J., Mårtensson, J., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2016). Repeated structural imaging reveals non-linear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex. Cerebral Cortex. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw141

Wenger, E., Mårtensson, J., Noack, H., Bodammer, N. C., Kühn, S., Schaefer, S., Heinze, H.-J., Düzel, E., Bäckman, L., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2014). Comparing manual and automatic segmentation of hippocampal volumes: Reliability and validity issues in younger and older brains. Human Brain Mapping, 35, 4236–4248. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22473

Master Theses


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)


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