Emmy Noether Group – Lifespan Neural Dynamics

The Lifespan Neural Dynamics Group (LNDG) was financially supported by a 6-year Emmy Noether grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) to Douglas D. Garrett from 2017 to 2023. It investigated, and continues to investigate, the computational and neurobiological bases for moment-to-moment fluctuations in brain activity, with a key emphasis on cognitive aging.

LNDG has centered primarily on healthy cognitive and neural development across the lifespan. In contrast to earlier approaches that have historically assumed brain signal variability to be a form of detrimental “neural noise,” the LNDG research program indicates that moment-to-moment signal variability can instead facilitate neural communication, flexibility, and adaptability.

Its work has been at the forefront of an emerging line of research demonstrating that older, poorer performing adults reliably exhibit less signal variability across moments than younger, better performing adults (within and across brain regions and task types), an agenda the group increasingly pursues longitudinally. Based on this body of work, LNDG have proposed that the field abandon traditional theoretical considerations of "neural noise" as a primary basis for aging-related cognitive deficits, and instead reconceptualize age-related neurocognitive impairment as a generalized (and experimentally testable) process of increasing moment-to-moment rigidity and loss of dynamic range.

LNDG research is inherently multidisciplinary, spanning computational and in vivo neuroscience, multi-modal neuroimaging, developmental science, cognition, psychiatry, statistics, and machine learning.

LNDG is continuing its work in the context of the Center for Lifespan Psychology and remains part of the Berlin site of the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research.

Emmy Noether funding period: Jan 2017–March 2023

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