Determinants of Mental Capacity

Cognitive abilities vary widely between individuals, indicative of differences in our brains’ efficiency. 

Furthermore, our brain undergoes substantial anatomical changes during aging, which in some cases include pathological neurodegeneration processes, for example, due to Alzheimer’s disease.

The goal of my research project “Determinants of Mental Capacity” is to better understand the processes that maximize the potential of our most vital organ.

Together with my collaborators, I investigate brain mechanisms underlying higher and lower cognitive abilities in young adulthood and their development during aging. In particular, we search for parameters that explain how functions can be retained in older age, and what causes cognitive impairments.

To target these questions, we combine the computational TVA model with electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive electrophysiological measure of neural activity. This approach enables us to pinpoint brain processes that govern the core functions underlying an individual’s level of mental performance.

Our goal is to provide a better understanding of neural mechanisms underlying human mental abilities from a life-span perspective.  We aim to spot factors that cause age-related impairments  and those promoting reserve, which – far from disintegrating – help the brain to stay sharp as it ages. 


Researcher: 
Iris Wiegand

Funding: MOBILEX Mobility Grant 

Participate in EEG experiments


Associated research projects

Initial Training Network INDIREA 

CESA: Ageing processes though the cycle of life


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 600207