Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Berlin, Germany

The Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development is an internationally renowned social science research organization. Located in Berlin, it was initiated in 1961 and officially began operations in 1963 under the name Institute for Educational Research in the Max Planck Society, before receiving its current name in 1971. Its co-founder and first director was Hellmut Becker. The institute is part of the Human science Section of the Max Planck Society.Research activities focus on the development and education of humans, with an emphasis on basic research. The concept of education is defined broadly, embracing both formal educational processes as well as developmental processes from childhood to old age. Currently, around 350 employees contribute to interdisciplinary research in four research centers and three research groups.Center for Adaptive Rationality Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition Center for Lifespan Psychology Research Center History of Emotions Max Planck Research Group Affect Across the Lifespan Max Planck Research Group Felt Communities? Emotions in European Music Performances Max Planck Research Group REaD . In addition, the Harding Center for Risk Literacy was opened in April 2009. Motivating its research is the vision of enlightened individuals who are equipped to deal with risks in the modern technological world in an informed way. Director of the Harding Center is Gerd Gigerenzer.The Research Center of Educational Research ended its activities in 2010. Its best-known projects were the TIMS study and the PISA study, whose results received wide attention by both the mass media and politicians.The institute is located in Wilmersdorf, a neighbourhood in the southwest of Berlin, immediately bordering on the neighborhood of Dahlem, and is therefore considered part of Dahlem's traditional science district. This is home to a number of scientific organizations such as the Free University Berlin, which works together with the institute.The founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development was Hellmut Becker, subsequently joined by Dietrich Goldschmidt and Saul B. Robinsohn as the first generation of directors. They were followed by directors Wolfgang Edelstein , Peter M. Roeder and Friedrich Edding , Paul B. Baltes , Karl Ulrich Mayer , Jürgen Baumert , Gerd Gigerenzer , Ulman Lindenberger , Ute Frevert , and Ralph Hertwig . Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 10, 2017

Study finds that early schoolgoers are more focused than their preschool peers The first year of elementary school markedly boosts a child's attentiveness, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. The study, led by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, shows that children who transition earlier to a formal school environment learn to be more focused and less impulsive than their peers at play-based preschools. The findings are published today in the online issue of the journal Psychological Science. "These results demonstrate for the first time how environmental context shapes the development of brain mechanisms in 5-year-olds transitioning into school," said study co-author Silvia Bunge, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience. Researchers hypothesized that a controlled educational setting in which young children must learn to sit still, follow directions and avoid distractions would boost certain cognitive skills, such as staying on task. The experiment, conducted in Germany where preschool is referred to as "kindergarten," proved their theory. "Our results indicate that the structured learning environment of school has a positive effect on the development of behavioral control," said study lead author Garvin Brod, a researcher at the German Institute for International Educational Research. For the study, researchers used computerized tests and brain imaging to track the cognitive performance of 62 children aged 5. In comparing the results of tests conducted at the beginning and end of a school and preschool year, the study found that the children who had gone to school showed greater improvement than their preschool peers at maintaining focus and following rules. Moreover, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brains during an attention control task showed the schoolgoers to have a more active right parietal cortex, which supports attentiveness, among other cognitive skills. While the findings reveal new information in the ongoing debate over the developmentally appropriate age to start school, the researchers are not necessarily advocating for early school start ages. "Those results should not be taken to mean that the elementary school setting is necessarily better for young children's development than play-based early schooling," Bunge said, citing research that shows children do well in hands-on, interactive learning environments. Moreover, there is enormous developmental variation across children of the same age, she said. The study is part of the HippoKid project led by Yee Lee Shing at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Kuhn S.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development | Gallinat J.,Charité - Medical University of Berlin
Biological Psychiatry | Year: 2013

Background: Since the inception of the diagnosis posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attempts have been undertaken to understand why only a subpopulation of individuals exposed to trauma develops PTSD. Cerebral gray matter reductions have been suggested to be a crucial pathobiological marker of PTSD. However, a quantitative meta-analysis of whole-brain voxel-based morphometry studies is lacking. Methods: Here, we investigated concurrence across voxel-based morphometry studies in PTSD compared with trauma-exposed individuals without PTSD (all together nine studies with 319 subjects) by means of activation likelihood estimation. Results: We identified brain regions of consistent gray matter reduction in anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, left temporal pole/middle temporal gyrus, and left hippocampus in PTSD patients compared with individuals exposed to trauma without PTSD. Conclusions: This is the first quantitative whole-brain meta-analysis showing brain structure deficits in traumatized subjects with PTSD compared with trauma-exposed healthy control subjects. The gray matter deficit profile overlaps with brain networks of emotion processing, fear extinction, and emotion regulation known to be affected in PTSD. Although the data cannot clarify if this is a predisposition or a consequence of the disease, the results may facilitate the need to control for structural characteristics in future functional brain studies. © 2013 Society of Biological Psychiatry.

Lindenberger U.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development | Mayr U.,University of Oregon
Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Year: 2014

It has been known for some time that memory deficits among older adults increase when self-initiated processing is required and decrease when the environment provides task-appropriate cues. We propose that this observation is not confined to memory but can be subsumed under a more general developmental trend. In perception, learning or memory, and action management, older adults often rely more on external information than younger adults do, probably both as a direct reflection and indirect adaptation to difficulties in internally triggering and maintaining cognitive representations. This age-graded shift from internal towards environmental control is often associated with compromised performance. Cognitive aging research and the design of aging-friendly environments can benefit from paying closer attention to the developmental dynamics and implications of this shift. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Li S.-C.,TU Dresden | Li S.-C.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | Year: 2013

Behavioral, cognitive, and motivational development entails co-constructive interactions between the environmental and social influences from the developmental context, on the one hand, and the individual's neurobiological inheritance, on the other hand. Key brain networks underlying cognition, emotion, and motivation are innervated by major transmitter systems (e.g., the catecholamines and acetylcholine). Thus, the maturation and senescence of neurotransmitter systems have direct implications for lifespan development. In addition to reviewing evidence on life age differences in dopaminergic modulation and cognitive development, this brief review selectively highlights recent findings on how important influences from the developmental context, such as reward-mediated motivational processes, transgenerational stress transmission, psychosocial stress, and cognitive interventions, may, in part, exert their effects on brain and behavioral development through their effects on neuromodulatory mechanisms. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Ofen N.,Wayne State University | Shing Y.L.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | Year: 2013

Human memory is not a unitary entity; rather it is thought to arise out of a complex architecture involving interactions between distinct representational systems that specialize in perceptual, semantic, and episodic representations. Neuropsychological and neuroimaging evidence are combined in support of models of memory systems, however most models only capture a 'mature' state of human memory and there is little attempt to incorporate evidence of the contribution of developmental and senescence changes in various processes involved in memory across the lifespan. Here we review behavioral and neuroimaging evidence for changes in memory functioning across the lifespan and propose specific principles that may be used to extend models of human memory across the lifespan. In contrast to a simplistic reduced version of the adult model, we suggest that the architecture and dynamics of memory systems become gradually differentiated during development and that a dynamic shift toward favoring semantic memory occurs during aging. Characterizing transformations in memory systems across the lifespan can illustrate and inform us about the plasticity of human memory systems. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Kuhn S.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development | Gallinat J.,Charité - Medical University of Berlin
Molecular Psychiatry | Year: 2014

Playing video games is a popular leisure activity among children and adults, and may therefore potentially influence brain structure. We have previously shown a positive association between probability of gray matter (GM) volume in the ventral striatum and frequent video gaming in adolescence. Here we set out to investigate structural correlates of video gaming in adulthood, as the effects observed in adolescents may reflect only a fraction of the potential neural long-term effects seen in adults. On magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 62 male adults, we computed voxel-based morphometry to explore the correlation of GM with the lifetime amount of video gaming (termed joystick years). We found a significant positive association between GM in bilateral parahippocamal region (entorhinal cortex) and left occipital cortex/inferior parietal lobe and joystick years (P<0.001, corrected for multiple comparisons). An exploratory analysis showed that the entorhinal GM volume can be predicted by the video game genres played, such as logic/puzzle games and platform games contributing positively, and action-based role-playing games contributing negatively. Furthermore, joystick years were positively correlated with hippocampus volume. The association of lifetime amount of video game playing with bilateral entorhinal cortex, hippocampal and occipital GM volume could reflect adaptive neural plasticity related to navigation and visual attention. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.

Lindenberger U.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development | Lindenberger U.,University College London
Science | Year: 2014

Human cognitive aging differs between and is malleable within individuals. In the absence of a strong genetic program, it is open to a host of hazards, such as vascular conditions, metabolic syndrome, and chronic stress, but also open to protective and enhancing factors, such as experience-dependent cognitive plasticity. Longitudinal studies suggest that leading an intellectually challenging, physically active, and socially engaged life may mitigate losses and consolidate gains. Interventions help to identify contexts and mechanisms of successful cognitive aging and give science and society a hint about what would be possible if conditions were different. Copyright © 2014 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved.

Filimon F.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Neuroscientist | Year: 2010

In primates, control of the limb depends on many cortical areas. Whereas specialized parietofrontal circuits have been proposed for different movements in macaques, functional neuroimaging in humans has revealed widespread, overlapping activations for hand and eye movements and for movements such as reaching and grasping. This review examines the involvement of frontal and parietal areas in hand and arm movements in humans as revealed with functional neuroimaging. The degree of functional specialization, possible homologies with macaque cortical regions, and differences between frontal and posterior parietal areas are discussed, as well as a possible organization of hand movements with respect to different spatial reference frames. The available evidence supports a cortical organization along gradients of sensory (visual to somatosensory) and effector (eye to hand) preferences. © The Author(s) 2010.

Hertwig R.,University of Basel | Hertwig R.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Science | Year: 2012

The subjective confidence of individuals in groups can be a valid predictor of accuracy in decision-making tasks.

Stevens J.R.,Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Animal Cognition | Year: 2010

Helping others at no cost to oneself is a simple way to demonstrate other-regarding preferences. Yet, primates exhibit mixed results for other-regarding preferences: chimpanzees and tamarins do not show these effects, whereas capuchin monkeys and marmosets preferentially give food to others. One factor of relevance to this no-cost food donation is the payoff to the donor. Though donors always receive the same payoffs regardless of their choice, previous work varies in whether they receive either a food reward or no food reward. Here, I tested cotton-top tamarins in a preferential giving task. Subjects could choose from two tools, one of which delivered food to a partner in an adjacent cage and the other of which delivered food to an empty cage. Thus, subjects could preferentially give or withhold food from a partner. I varied whether subjects received food payoffs, whether a partner was present or absent, and whether the partner was a non-cagemate or the subject's mate. Results showed that the subjects' overall motivation to pull either tool declined when they did not receive any food. Additionally, they did not preferentially donate or withhold food, regardless of their own payoff or their relationship with the partner. Thus, cotton-top tamarins do not take advantage of cost-free food giving, either when they might gain in the future (mates) or when they have no opportunity for future interactions (non-cagemates). © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

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