Max Planck Research Network on Cognition (Maxnet Cognition)

The substantive focus of this network, which was funded by the Innovation Fund of the Max Planck Society from 2008 to 2012, was on behavioral neuroscience of cognition, with an emphasis on one or more of the following: human cognitive performance, structural and functional brain circuitry, and computational algorithms. The Network was open to all institutes of the Max Planck Society and also includes cooperation partners from other research institutions.

Strategic Goals

Maxnet Cognition aimed to:

  • increase cooperation and improve coordination between institutes and across sections;

  • promote research on cognition by providing a more cohesive representation of cognitive research issues and identifying future research directions;

  • foster cross-disciplinary insights and collaboration; and

  • signal the strong and sustained commitment of the Max Planck Society to the topic of cognition.


Maxnet Cognition involved joint research activities as well as topical workshops on themes of common interest. The objectives of the workshops were to:

  • nurture interdisciplinary and multilevel discourse;

  • present research on cognition broadly but also in-depth;

  • advance theories and new methodologies/paradigms;

  • open up new lines of inquiry into the study of cognition; and

  • plan collaborative research to be conducted at the home institutions.

In 2009, two workshops were held, exploring potential research collaborations in the field of Genetics and Cognition and Face Perception in Social Context. As a result, these two emphasis topics were identified as research clusters covering several collaborative projects between institutes.

Genetics and Cognition

Collaboration within this framework focused on establishing a common measurement protocol across different research institutions inside and outside the Max Planck Society. The protocol includes:

  • functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the default network;

  • structural MRI of grey matter volume and white matter tracts;

  • high-resolution hippocampus subfield assessment;

  • key indicators of cognitive functioning;

  • genetic information (candidate genes and, possibly, genome-wide association scans).

By agreeing on this protocol, the participating institutions have increased their potential for discovery and replication of relations among genes, brain, and behavior. The coordinator for this emphasis topic was Hubert Fonteijn from the MPI for Psycholinguistics at Nijmegen.

Face Perception in Social Context

Research within this framework included topics such as dynamic facial expressions, multisensory integration, action prediction, and development across the lifespan. In 2009 and 2010, scientists from the MPI for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, MPI for Human Development, Berlin, and MPI for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, were involved in these research activities. The coordinator for this emphasis topic was Franziska Kopp at the Center for Lifespan Psychology (see also Interactive Brains, Social Minds).


Steering Committee (2008–2012)

Peter Hagoort (MPI for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen)

Ulman Lindenberger (MPI for Human Development, Berlin)

Arno Villringer (MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig)

Coordinators (2008–2012)

Hubert Fonteijn (MPI for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen)

Franziska Kopp (MPI for Human Development, Berlin)