Lifespan Psychology

We study human development from birth until old age. Using training studies, we explore hidden potentials and examine how brain changes are related to behavioral changes. In longitudinal studies like the Berlin Aging Study we determine the causes and consequences of long-term developmental differences.

Among the questions interesting us are the following:

  • How do we learn new things and store them in memory for decades? What is the role of sleep in this context?
  • How do children manage to acquire world knowledge within a few years although many of their memories of single events are vague?
  • How does the brain change while we learn a new ability?
  • How do humans accomplish exact coordination of their actions in time, for example, during choral singing?
  • Does physical activity counteract brain aging?

Answering such questions requires collaboration of researchers from different disciplines such as psychology, neurosciences, physics, and computer sciences. Guided by three propositions, we combine the various approaches and work together on a psychology of the lifespan.

The Center for Lifespan Psychology (LIP) was founded in 1981 by the late Paul B. Baltes.


The LIP members work on different lifespan psychological topics in eight projects.

Graduate Training

International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE)
LIFE is a graduate program on human development involving universities in Germany, Switzerland, and the USA. more
International Max Planck Research School COMP2PSYCH
This graduate program is part of the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, which is located in Berlin and London. more
Max Planck School of Cognition
The Max Planck School of Cognition is a graduate program that offers young scientists the opportunity to obtain broadly based insights into the methods and research approaches used in the rapidly developing field of cognitive science.  more

Selected International Collaborations

Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research
The Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research was launched in April 2014. It is based on an initiative by scientists from the Max Planck Society and University College London (UCL) targeting the development and application of computational methods that reorganize and improve our understanding of mental illness and behavioral aging. more
The Berlin Aging Studies BASE and BASE-II participated in this EU-funded project together with the Formal Methods project. It integrated data from 6000 participants in 11 European neuroimaging studies carried out in 7 countries and ended in 2023. more

Historical Background

A Philosopher of the Enlightenment Era: Tetens
"But ... its eminent modifiability, and its predisposition to self-initiated action, may it develop little or much, and may it differ in amount between different individuals, is among the immutable features of humankind, which can be found whereever humans exist."

Johann Nicolaus Tetens (1736-1807), philosopher of the Enlightenment Era more

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