Learning and Training

Principle investigators:
Kristina Küper, Patrick Gajewski, Oliver Kobald

Stefan Arnau

Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (project PFIFF1 und 2); Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (project INNOKAT); Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft (GDV)

Sabine Eichberg (Sporthochschule Köln), Ben Eppinger (Concordia University, Montereal), Michael Falkenstein (Institut für Arbeiten, Lernen und Altern), Jens Friebe (Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung), Ronny Hänold (Leibniz-Institut für Altersforschung, FLI), Julia Karbach (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt), Claudia Kardys (TÜV Rheinland), Beatrice Kuhlmann (Universität Mannheim), Claudia Voelcker-Rehage (TU Chemnitz), Nele Wild-Wall (Hochschule Rhein-Waal)

Extending our research into basic sensory and cognitive functions, we investigate the consequences of age-related changes in these functions for activities of everyday life and work performance. We transfer and apply these basic research findings to work-related contexts and environments by examining life-long learning and training interventions designed to preserve and improve the cognitive abilities of older workers. In previous studies like the PFIFF 1 & 2 studies (www.pfiffprojekt.de) and the INNOKAT project (www.innokat-projekt.de) we have successfully designed, implemented, and evaluated cognitive, physical, and stress management training interventions which can effectively improve corresponding resources in younger and older employees.

One important finding of our research is that physical activity can increase cognitive performance and slow down age-related physical and mental decline. Our current project ‘GeKo – Gesundheit kommt an’ will further investigate the differential effects of a combined physical and cognitive training on the mental abilities of workers in different age groups. In addition to training-induced changes in cognitive functions, we will analyze potential modulating effects of socio-demographic (age, gender, educational background) and lifestyle factors (physical activity, physical and mental health, working environment). The project is planned as a longitudinal study and will be conducted in cooperation with TÜV Rheinland and Schmitz Cargobull AG.

As a member of the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Healthy Aging’, a comparative analysis of cognitive aging in mice and humans is in preparation: The ‘Mice to Men’ project is aimed at examining the effects of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors as well as training interventions on learning and cognitive plasticity across the lifespan. The project will be conducted in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute on Aging (FLI), TU Chemnitz, TU Dresden and Mannheim University and is funded by the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Healthy Aging’.


  • Gajewski PD, Falkenstein M: Lifelong physical activity and executive functions in older age assessed by memory based task switching. Neuropsychologia 73: 195-207 (2015)
  • Gajewski PD, Falkenstein M: Long-term habitual physical activity is associated with lower distractibility in a Stroop interference task in aging: Behavioral and ERP evidence. Brain Cogn 98: 87-101 (2015)
  • Gajewski PD, Falkenstein M: Training-induced improvement of response selection and error detection in aging assessed by task switching: effects of cognitive, physical, and relaxation training. Front Hum Neurosci 6: 130 (2012)
  • Küper K, Karbach J: Increased training complexity reduces the effectiveness of brief working memory training: evidence from short-term single and dual n-back training interventions. J Cogn Psychol 28: 199-208 (2016)
  • Küper K, Rivkin W, Diestel S, Schmidt K-H, Myskovszky von Myrow T, Przybysz P, Ahlfeld C, Frießem M, Zülch J, Kleibömer S, Günnewig J, te Heesen M, Falkenstein M: Innovationskraft altersgemischter Belegschaften steigern – eine ganzheitliche Intervention. In: Jeschke S, Richert A, Hees F, Jooß C (Hrsg.): Exploring demographics. Transdisziplinäre Perspektiven zur Innovationsfähigkeit im demografischen Wandel (S 463-475). Wiesbaden: Springer Spektrum, 2015