Sensorimotor-Cognitive Couplings

Everyday life often requires the integration and coordination of perception, action, and thought. Examples include walking while trying to memorize a shopping list or maintaining one’s balance on a bus while trying to read an advertisement. Similarly, the successful execution of complex movements requires task-specific coordination of body parts and anticipatory control.

How do individuals of different ages or with different levels of expertise adapt to multiple sensorimotor and cognitive demands? How does the interaction between the sensorimotor and cognitive dimensions of behavior develop across the lifespan? In our research, we seek to provide answers to these questions by focusing on motor aspects of behavior, both in isolation and in relation to cognition.

The project investigates lifespan differences in interactions between sensorimotor and cognitive aspects of behavior as well as lifespan differences in movement organization and coordination. Recently, our research interests have concentrated on movement development in early childhood.

Team SensCog | Projekt Sensomotorische und kognitive Entwicklung
© MPI fuer Bildungsforschung

Movement Lab

Our laboratory is equipped with a motion capture system for measuring human movement with high temporal and spatial accuracy. The motion capture system can also be combined with devices for measuring ground reaction forces, muscle activity, or electrical brain activity. In 2013, our facilities moved to a larger laboratory space, which offers new possibilities for investigating whole-body motor behavior, such as examining locomotion on level ground rather than on the treadmill. This is of particular importance for studies on early motor skills. More information on our lab can be found here.

Recent Publications

Bierbauer, W., Inauen, J., Schaefer, S., Kleemeyer, M., Lüscher, J., König, C., ... Scholz, U. (2017). Health behavior change in older adults: Testing the health action process approach at the inter- and intraindividual level. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 9, 324–348. https://doi.org/10.1111/aphw.12094


Ulman Lindenberger

Julius Verrel
(adjunct researcher)

Maike Kleemeyer (postdoctoral fellow)


Whitney Cole, New York University
Sabine Schaefer
, Saarland University
Michael Schellenbach, Hochschule Ruhr West – University of Applied Sciences

Key References

Kleemeyer, M. M., Kühn, S., Prindle, J., Bodammer, N. C., Brechtel, L., Garthe, A., ... 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

Schaefer, S., Schellenbach, M., Lindenberger, U., & Woollacott, M. (2015). Walking in high-risk settings: Do older adults still prioritize gait when distracted by a cognitive task? Experimental Brain Research, 233, 79–88. doi: 10.1007/s00221-014-4093-8

Verrel, J., Lisofksy, N., & Kühn, S. (2014). Balancing cognitive control: How observed movements influence motor performance in a task with balance constraints. Acta Psychologica, 150, 129–135. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2014.05.010

Verrel, J., Woollacott, M. H., & Lindenberger, U. (2014). Articulated coordination of the right arm underlies control of bow parameters and quick bow reversals in skilled cello bowing. Frontiers in Psychology, 5: 885. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00885