Lifespan Rhythms of Memory and Cognition (RHYME)


The overarching objective of this project is to understand how the dynamic interplay of maturation, personal experiences, and senescence drives and affects plastic changes on neural and behavioral levels across the lifespan. To this end, the RHYME project combines experimental approaches and longitudinal study designs with multi-modal data sources from several neuroimaging methods to uncover the foundations of intra- and inter-individual variations in intellectual functions such as perception, attention, learning, and memory.

Currently, the following themes build the focus of the project’s research activities:

  • How do lifespan changes in neuroanatomy and neurochemistry during maturation and senescence affect mechanisms of rhythmic neural activity that support attention, learning, and (working) memory?
  • What are the mechanisms driving the surprisingly close co-development of sleep physiology and improved cognition during childhood, as well as its decline during aging?
  • Do qualitative transitions in memory development during childhood depend on the maturation of intra-hippocampal structures?
  • Is it possible to derive personalized descriptions of maturational/senescent timing and intellectual potential within a given individual?

Measurement Methods

We often carry out electroencephalography (EEG), during which the electrical currents in the brain are registered on the scalp via electrodes. In some studies, we also use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), where the structure and functioning of the brain is made visible by magnetic fields.

A research assistant places an EEG cap on a participant's head.

Putting on an EEG cap

Example of an EEG experiment during which a participant looks at a screen.

Example of an EEG measurement

Child asleep with EEG electrodes on her head.

EEG measurement in sleeping child

An older participant prepares herself for an MRI measurement

Preparation for an MRI measurement

This symposium took place in Budapest and brought together leading international experts on the hippocampus and memory across the lifespan and across levels of analysis. The aim was to further the understanding of hippocampal network contributions to cognition across the lifespan. more

Key Publications

Joechner, A.-K., Wehmeier, S., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2021). Electrophysiological indicators of sleep-associated memory consolidation in 5- to 6-year-old children. Psychophysiology, 58(8), Article e13829.
Sander, M. C., Fandakova, Y., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2021). Effects of age differences in memory formation on neural mechanisms of consolidation and retrieval. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, 116, 135–145.
Dahl, M. J., Mather, M., Düzel, S., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., Kühn, S., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2019). Rostral locus coeruleus integrity is associated with better memory performance in older adults. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 1203–1214.
Muehlroth, B. E., Sander, M. C., Fandakova, Y., Grandy, T. H., Rasch, B., Shing, Y. L., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2019). Precise slow oscillation-spindle coupling promotes memory consolidation in younger and older adults. Scientific Reports, 9, Article 1940.
Keresztes, A., Ngo, C. T., Lindenberger, U., Werkle-Bergner, M., & Newcombe, N. S. (2018). Hippocampal maturation drives memory from generalization to specificity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 22(8), 676–686.
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