Learning and Training

Principle investigators:
Patrick Gajewski, James Custodio

Christina Petrou (external PhD student)

EU Horizon 2020 “sustAge”, BMBF “Digital Angel”

Helen Morrison (Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute, FLI)

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 projects and the INNOKAT project 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.

Goal of the project sustAGE is the development and evaluation of a technology-based, person-centered smart solution supporting the employment and later retirement of older adults from work. The idea is to provide older employees with a personalized recommendation system in form of a mobile device indicating the person’s current mental, physical, and motivational status. Based on this health surveillance monitoring, risk assessments, targeted prevention strategies and training interventions will be possible, intended to enhance occupational safety, productivity, and health. The EU Horizon 2020 project is conducted within an international consortium of occupational specialists, psychologists and end-users.

The BMBF-funded project ‘Digital Angel’ aims to improve the working conditions of nursing staff. The aim is to develop and evaluate assistance systems to improve emotional work in dealing with patients. This is flanked by accompanying intervention measures, for example for the design of work and strategies for coping with stress. The “Designing Work” unit is in the lead, and the project is embedded in a consortium of partners from science and the healthcare sector.

In cooperation with the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Resilient Ageing’’, the Mice-to-Men project, a research initiative of the IfADo, aims at the complex interactions between external and internal factors on age-related processes across the lifespan, focusing especially on goal-directed learning and neural plasticity. The core questions are in which way living environments, nutrition, and the genetic background of the animals interact over the lifespan, and if adverse effects due to premature aging on cognitive functioning and neural plasticity can be ameliorated (or even reversed) by cognitive or physical training. Future goals are the development and refinement of translational paradigms to assess cognitive capabilities in mice and humans and the examination of inter-organ interactions, such as the relationship of liver functioning, the immune system and brain activity.


  • Gajewski, P.D., Golka, K., Hengstler, J.G., Kadhum, T., Digutsch, J., Genç, E., Wascher, E. & Getzmann, S. (2023). Does physical fitness affect cognitive functions differently across adulthood? An advantage of being older. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1134770.
  • Kardys, C., Küper, K., Getzmann, S., Falkenstein, M. & Voelcker-Rehage, C. (2022). A comparison of the effects of short-term physical and combined multi-modal training on cognitive functions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19, 7506.
  • Velana M, Sobieraj S, Digutsch J, Rinkenauer G: The advances of immersive virtual reality interventions for the enhancement of stress management and relaxation among healthy adults: a systematic review. Appl Sci 12: 7309 (2022)
  • Digutsch, J., Velana, M., Rinkenauer, G. & Sobieraj, S. (2021). Capturing interactive work for nurses – first validation of the German IWDS-N as a multidimensional measure. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18, 7786,
  • Velana, M. & Rinkenauer, G. (2021). Individual-level interventions for decreasing job-related stress and enhancing coping strategies among nurses: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 708696.
  • Gajewski, P.D., Thönes, S., Falkenstein, M., Wascher, E. & Getzmann, S. (2020). Multidomain cognitive training transfers to attentional and executive functions in healthy older adults. Frontiers Human Neuroscience, 14, 586963.
  • Gajewski, P.D. & Falkenstein, M. (2018). ERP and behavioral effects of physical and cognitive training on working memory in aging: a randomized controlled study. Neural Plasticity, article ID 3454835.
  • Gajewski, P.D., Freude, G. & Falkenstein, M. (2017). Cognitive training sustainably improves executive functioning in middle-aged industry workers assessed by task switching: a randomized controlled ERP study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 81.
  • Küper, K., Gajewski, P.D., Frieg, C. & Falkenstein, M. (2017). A randomized controlled ERP study on the effects of multi-domain cognitive training and task difficulty on task switching performance in older adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11, 184.