Learning and Training

Principle investigators:
Patrick Gajewski, Oliver Kobald

Staff:
Stefan Arnau

Funds:
BMBF (Projekt INNOKAT), Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft (GDV), Leibniz Research Alliance „Healthy Ageing“

Cooperation/partners:
Sabine Eichberg (Sporthochschule Köln), Ben Eppinger (Concordia University, Montereal), Michael Falkenstein (Institut für Arbeiten, Lernen und Altern), Helen Morrison and 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)

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 project ‘GeKo – Gesundheit kommt an’ further investigates 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 analyze potential modulating effects of socio-demographic (age, gender, educational background) and lifestyle factors (physical activity, physical and mental health, working environment).

As a member of the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Healthy Ageing’, we perform comparative analyses of cognitive aging in mice and humans: The ‘Mice to Men’ project is aimed at examining the effects of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors as well as training interventions on mechanisms of learning and neural plasticity across the lifespan. The project is conducted in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute on Aging (FLI, Dr. Morrison, Dr. Hänold), TU Chemnitz (Prof. Voelcker-Rehage), Concordia University (Prof. Eppinger) and Mannheim University (Prof. Kuhlmann) and is funded by the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Healthy Ageing’.

Publications:

  • 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 (15 pp.).
  • 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 (12 pp.).
  • Küper, K. & Karbach, J. (2016). Increased training complexity reduces the effectiveness of brief working memory training: evidence from short-term single and dual n-back training interventions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 28, 199-208.
  • Gajewski, P.D. & Falkenstein, M. (2015). Lifelong physical activity and executive functions in older age assessed by memory based task switching. Neuropsychologia, 73, 195-207.
  • Gajewski, P.D. & Falkenstein, M. (2015). Long-term habitual physical activity is associated with lower distractibility in a Stroop interference task in aging: Behavioral and ERP evidence. Brain Cognition, 98, 87-101.
  • 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. (2015). 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.