Max Planck Sabbatical Award
The gerontologist Mara Mather received the Max Planck Sabbatical Award in 2018. Established by the Max Planck Society, the award offers renowned scientists a research stay at one of the Max Planck Institutes.
Mara Mather's research is on the affective/cognitive neuroscience of aging, examining how age-related changes in brain function and structure impact cognition and emotion. In particular, her research has elucidated the brain mechanisms of how arousal makes attention more selective and how these processes change in aging. A small brainstem region called the locus coeruleus plays a key role in focusing attention under arousal. The locus coeruleus is one of the earliest targets of Alzheimer's related pathology in the brain, but because of its small size it has been challenging to study in living humans. Recent advances have allowed it to be localized using magnetic resonance imaging. Mather has been collaborating with MPIB researchers at the Center for Lifespan Psychology on projects to examine the role of age-related changes in the locus coeruleus arousal system in age-related change in cognition.