Networking (Dortmund Vital Study)

Do-Sky-blauPrinciple investigators:
Patrick Gajewski, Stephan Getzmann, Edmund Wascher



Christian Beste (Uni-Klinikum Dresden), Edward J. Golob (UTSA University of Texas), 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.

In 2015 the IfADo started the ‘Dortmund Vital Study’. 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.


  • Gajewski, P.D., Hanisch, E., Falkenstein, M., Thönes, S. & Wascher, E. (2018). What does the n-back task measure as we get older?: Relations between working-memory measures and other cognitive functions across the lifespan. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2208.
  • Thönes, S., Falkenstein, M. & Gajewski, P.D. (2018). Multitasking in aging: ERP correlates of dual-task costs in young versus low, intermediate, and high performing older adults
    Neuropsychologia 119,  424-433.
  • Gajewski, P.D., Boden, S., Freude, G., Potter, G.G. & Falkenstein, M. (2017). Burnout is associated with changes in error and feedback processing. Biological Psychology, 129, 349-358.
  • Gajewski, P.D., Boden, S., Freude, G., Claus, M., Bröde, P., Watzl, C., Getzmann, S. & Falkenstein, M. (2017). Executive control, ERP and pro-inflammatory activity in emotionally exhausted middle-aged employees: comparison between subclinical burnout and mild to moderate depression. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 176-186.
  • Gajewski, P.D., Falkenstein, M., Hengstler, J.G. & Golka, K. (2016). Reduced ERPs and theta oscillations underlie working memory deficits in Toxoplasma gondii infected seniors. Biological Psychology, 120, 35-45.
  • Wascher, E., Heppner, H., Kobald, S.O., Arnau, S., Getzmann, S. & Möckel, T. (2016). Age-sensitive effects of enduring work with alternating cognitive and physical load. A study applying mobile EEG in a real life working scenario. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 711.
  • Selinski, S., Getzmann, S., Gajewski, P.D., Blaszkewicz, M., Hengstler, J.G., Falkenstein, M. & Golka, K. (2015). The ultra-slow NAT2*6A haplotype is associated with reduced higher cognitive functions in an elderly study group. Archives of Toxicology, 89, 2291-2303.