Mechanisms and Sequential Progression of Plasticity

Our project addresses the questions of whether and how plasticity contributes to development across the lifespan. Special attention is given to the relationship between neural and behavioral manifestations of plasticity.

The human brain has a significant capacity to adapt to changing environmental demands by altering its function and structure (see Lövdén, Wenger, Mårtensson, Lindenberger, & Bäckman, 2013). The central goals of this project are to delineate the mechanisms and sequential progression of behavioral and neural plasticity across the lifespan. The guiding propositions of the project are based on the assumption that plasticity is induced by a mismatch between environmental demands and individuals’ current behavioral and neural resources (cf. Kühn & Lindenberger, 2016). The project is interested in plastic changes across the lifespan, induced by mismatches in either direction: it examines situations in which current demands exceed supply (e. g., cognitive interventions) as well as situations in which supply exceeds current demands (e. g., sensory deprivation). Cognitive interventions via training studies targeting specific brain regions and circuits that hypothetically support particular skills are central to the project’s research agenda. Since the mechanisms of change and the sequential progression of plasticity are largely unknown, our main goal is to fill this research lacuna.

Research Foci

Selected Publications

Papadaki, E., Koustakas, T., Werner, A., Lindenberger, U., Kühn, S., & Wenger, E. (2023). Resting-state functional connectivity in an auditory network differs between aspiring professionals and amateur musicians and correlates with performance. Brain Structure and Function, 228(9), 2147–2163.
Schwarze, S. A., Laube, C., Khosravani, N., Lindenberger, U., Bunge, S. A., & Fandakova, Y. (2023). Does prefrontal connectivity during task switching help or hinder children’s performance? Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 60, Article 101217.
Polk, S. E., Kleemeyer, M. M., Köhncke, Y., Brandmaier, A. M., Bodammer, N. C., Misgeld, C., Porst, J., Wolfarth, B., Kühn, S., Lindenberger, U., Wenger, E., & Düzel, S. (2022). Change in latent gray matter structural integrity is associated with change in cardiovascular fitness in older adults who engage in at-home aerobic exercise. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 16, Article 852737.
Wenger, E., Fandakova, Y., & Shing, Y. L. (2021). Episodic memory training. In T. Strobach & J. Karbach (Eds.), Cognitive training: An overview of features and applications (2nd ed., pp. 169–184). Springer.
Wenger, E., & Kühn, S. (2021). Neuroplasticity. In T. Strobach & J. Karbach (Eds.), Cognitive training: An overview of features and applications (2nd ed., pp. 69–83). Springer.
Wenger, E., Papadaki, E., Werner, A., Kühn, S., & Lindenberger, U. (2021). Observing plasticity of the auditory system: Volumetric decreases along with increased functional connectivity in aspiring professional musicians. Cerebral Cortex Communications, 2(2), Article tgab008.
Ghetti, S., & Fandakova, Y. (2020). Neural development of memory and metamemory in childhood and adolescence: Toward an integrative model of the development of episodic recollection. Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, 2, 365–388.
Laube, C., van den Bos, W., & Fandakova, Y. (2020). The relationship between pubertal hormones and brain plasticity: Implications for cognitive training in adolescence. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 42, Article 100753.
Wenger, E., Brozzoli, C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21(12), 930–939.
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