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.