Christian Beste (Uni-Klinikum Dresden), Edward J. Golob (Tulane University), Nikolai Axmacher, Robert Kumsta, Sebastian Ocklenburg (Ruhr-Universität Bochum).
A central prerequisite for better understanding of healthy aging is to learn more about the interplay of aging on basic cognitive functions and the role of factors modulating age-related changes. The identification of endogenous (e.g., immunological status, infections, diseases) and environmental (e.g., education, work conditions, stress, lifestyle) modulating factors on cognitive aging is therefore one major topic. The IfADo meets this challenge and investigates age-relevant processes and functions at different levels – from the biochemical and cellular to the behavior level. In collaboration with all the departments of the IfADo a number of previously unknown modulating factors on healthy aging could be revealed. A current interdisciplinary study, for example, discovers the relationship of burnout, aging, and immunological parameters in a group of professionals experiencing high emotional stress.
As a logical consequence of our previous insights, the IfADo started the ‘Dortmund Vital Study’ in 2015. In the course of the next years, data of a cohort of younger, middle-aged, and older subjects will be gathered that undergo an extensive test battery of EEG-based tasks. In this comprehensive, multi-year project the influences of a wide range of modulating factors (e.g., work conditions, stress, lifestyle, physical fitness, infections, personality traits) on cognitive functions and their neurophysiological correlates will be tested. By follow-up measurements (every 5 years) and the combination of elaborated experimental paradigms reflecting basic cognitive functions (such as attention, executive control, memory updating), modern EEG methodology, and the analysis of relevant biochemical data, the ‘Dortmund Vital Study’ will allow us to develop and evaluate highly specific hypotheses on the mechanisms of healthy aging. Work-related human functions and the role of work conditions (like stress and job satisfaction) will be of particular interest.