Cognitive functions and the Aging Brain

Research group leader


  • Katharina Klink (Postdoc)
  • Nadine Schmidt (PhD student)
  • Marta Menendez (PhD student)
  • Yves Lysser (PhD student)
  • Ronya Münger (research assistant)

Short description

Our group focuses on cognition in elderly individuals as well as in clinical populations. We primarily concentrate on investigating memory processes but also consider other cognitive functions (e.g., verbal fluency - see projects).

Research focuses

  • Cognition through the lifespan
  • Mechanisms of change in cognition
  • Different types of memory (e.g., incidental memory, prospective memory)
  • Strategies to enhance cognitive functions


At the moment, we apply the following methods:

  • Non-invasive brain stimulation is a group of techniques that allow the stimulation (or inhibition) of certain brain areas. We use transcranial direct current stimulation, a non-invasive method to increase (or decrease) cortical excitability with limited side effects.
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a class of imaging methods developed to demonstrate regional, time-varying changes in brain metabolism. These metabolic changes can be consequent to task-induced cognitive state changes or the result of unregulated processes in the resting brain.
  • During real-time fMRI based neurofeedback, participants are instructed to regulate their brain activity in a given brain area. The current brain activity is measured in real-time and data pre-processing as well as data analysis is performed with dedicated software. Feedback is provided to the participant in the scanner via a projector in the form of a thermometer icon, with the temperature reading indicating the current level of brain activity. The participants perform several training runs, which are composed of baseline blocks and up- or down-regulation blocks. During the regulation blocks, the target-level indicator of the thermometer display moves up or down, indicating that the participants should in- or decrease activity in the targeted brain region. With the help of feedback information, participants can learn to voluntarily control their brain activity in the targeted brain area.
  • In collaboration with Amsterdam UMC (Prof. Dr. Charlotte Teunissen), we use blood-based biomarkers (e.g., amyloid or tau) to test associations with response to interventions.



Local synchronicity in dopamine-rich caudate nucleus influences Huntington’s disease motor phenotype
Kasper J, Eickhoff S, Caspers S, Peter J, Dogan, I, Wolf RC, Reetz K, Dukart J, Orth M
Brain. Accepted, in press. doi: 10.1093/brain/awad043

Submillimeter T1 atlas for subject-specific abnormality detection at 7T
Piredda GF, Caneschi S, Hilbert T, Bonanno G, Joseph A, Egger K, Peter J, Klöppel S, Jehli E, Grieder M, Slotboom J, Seiffge D, Goeldlin M, Hoepner R, Willems T, Vulliemoz S, Seeck M, Venkategowda PB, Jerez RAC, Maréchal B, Thiran JP, Wiest R, Kober T, Radojewski P
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 2023 Apr;89(4):1601-1616. doi: 10.1002/mrm.29540


Detecting subtle signs of depression with automated speech analysis in a non-clinical sample
König A, Tröger J, Mallick E, Mina M, Linz N, Wagnon C, Karbach J, Kuhn C, Peter J
BMC Psychiatry. 2022 Dec 27;22(1):830. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-04475-0.

Can a serious game-based cognitive training attenuate cognitive decline related to Alzheimer's disease? Protocol for a randomized controlled trial
Brill E, Krebs C, Falkner M, Peter J, Henke K, Züst M, Minkova L, Brem AK, Klöppel S.
BMC Psychiatry. 2022 Aug 12;22(1):552. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-04131-7

Clock monitoring is associated with age-related decline in time-based prospective memory
Schmidt N, Haas M, Krebs C, Klöppel S, Kliegel M, Peter J.
Current Psychology. 2022 Mar 28; doi: 10.1007/s12144-022-03005-1

The left prefrontal cortex determines relevance at encoding and governs episodic memory formation
Orth M, Wagnon C, Neumann-Dunayevska E, Kaller C, Klöppel S, Meier B, Henke K, Peter J.
Cerebral Cortex. 2022 Mar 7; bhac088.doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhac088.


The relationship between cholinergic system brain structure and function in healthy adults and patients with mild cognitive impairment
Peter J, Mayer I, Kammer T, Minkova L, Lahr J, Klöppel S, Grothe MJ, Orth M.
Scientific Reports. 2021 Aug 9;11(1):16080. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-95573-8.

Patients with amnestic MCI fail to adapt executive control when repeatedly tested with semantic verbal fluency tasks
Tröger J, Lindsay H, Mina M, Linz N, Klöppel S, Kray J, Peter J.
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 2021 Jun 30;1-8. doi: 10.1017/S1355617721000849

Transcranial electrical stimulation improves cognitive training effects in healthy elderly adults with low cognitive performance
Krebs C, Peter J, Wyss P, Brem AK, Klöppel S.
Clinical Neurophysiology, 2021 Mar 26;S1388-2457(21)00474-0. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2021.01.034.

Targeting hippocampal hyperactivity with real-time fMRI neurofeedback: protocol of a single-blind randomized controlled trial in mild cognitive impairment
Klink K, Jaun U, Federspiel A, Wunderlin M, Teunissen CE, Kiefer C, Wiest R, Scharnowski F, Sladky R, Haugg A, Hellrung L, Peter J.
BMC Psychiatry, 2021 Feb 9;21(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s12888-021-03091-8.


The Modulation of Cognitive Performance with Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation: A Systematic Review of Frequency-Specific Effects
Klink K, Passmann S, Kasten FH, Peter J.
Brain Sciences, 2020, 10(12), 932. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10120932.

No Effect of Anodal tDCS on Verbal Episodic Memory Performance and Neurotransmitter Levels in Young and Elderly Participants
Habich A, Slotboom J, Peter J, Wiest R, Klöppel S.
Neural Plasticity, 2020 Sep 22;2020:8896791. doi: 10.1155/2020/8896791.

Education moderates the effect of tDCS on episodic memory performance in cognitively impaired patients
Krebs C, Klöppel S, Heimbach B, Peter J.
Brain Stimulation, 2020 Jul 23;S1935-861X(20)30206-0. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2020.07.008.

Transcranial Electric Current Stimulation During Associative Memory Encoding: Comparing tACS and tDCS Effects in Healthy Aging
Klink K, Peter J, Wyss P, Klöppel S.
Front Aging Neurosc, Epub 2020 Mar 17. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00066

Attachment Representations, Critical Life Events and ADHD in Boys at 6 to 10 Years of Age
Rampp G, Rösler C, Peter J.
Prax Kinderpsychol Kinderpsychiatr, 2020 Jan 69(1);40:59. doi: 10.13109/prkk.2020.69.1.40


Reducing negative affect with anodal transcranial direct current stimulation increases memory performance in young—but not in elderly—individuals
Peter J, Neumann-Dunayevska E, Geugelin F, Ninosu N, Plewnia C, Klöppel S.
Brain Struct Funct, 2019 Nov 224(8); 2973-2982. doi: 10.1007/s00429-019-01946-1

Determinants of Inter-Individual Variability in Corticomotor Excitability Induced by Paired Associative Stimulation
Minkova L, Peter J, Abdulkadir A, Schumacher LV, Kaller CP, Nissen C, Klöppel S, Lahr J.
Front Neurosci, 2019 Aug 14;13:841. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00841

Incidental Learning: A Systematic Review of Its Effect on Episodic Memory Performance in Older Age
Wagnon C, Wehrmann K, Klöppel S, Peter J.
Front Aging Neurosc, 17 July 2019.

Exploitation vs. Exploration—Computational Temporal and Semantic Analysis Explains Semantic Verbal Fluency Impairment in Alzheimer’s Disease
Tröger J, Linz N, Robert P, Peter J, König A, Kray J, Alexandersson J.
Neuropsychologia,  2019 August, 131: 53-61 , 2019 May 20;131:53-61. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.05.007


The age-prospective memory paradox: Is it about motivation?
Peter J, Kliegel M.
Clinical and Translational Neuroscience 2 (2),

Voxel-wise deviations from healthy aging for the detection of region-specific atrophy.
Klöppel S, Yang S, Kellner E, Reisert M, Heimbach B, Urbach H, Linn J, Weidauer S, Andres T, Bröse M, Lahr J, Lützen N, Meyer PT, Peter J, Abdulkadir A, Hellwig S, Egger K.
Neuroimage Clin., 19 Sep 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2018.09.013

Brain Aging and APOE ε4 Interact to Reveal Potential Neuronal Compensation in Healthy Older Adults.
Scheller E, Schumacher LV, Peter J, Lahr J, Wehrle J, Kaller CP, Gaser C & Klöppel S.
Front Aging Neurosci, 20 March 2018.

Language Modelling for the Clinical Semantic Verbal Fluency Task.
Linz N, Tröger J, Lindsay H, König A, Robert P, Peter J, Alexandersson J.
LREC 2018 Workshop RaPID-2. May 2018, Miyazaki, Japan.

Separating Symptomatic Alzheimer's Disease from Depression based on Structural MRI.
Klöppel S, Kotschi M, Peter J, Egger K, Hausner L, Frölich L, Förster A, Heimbach B, Normann C, Vach W, Urbach H, Abdulkadir A.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;63(1):353-363. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170964

Biological Factors Contributing to the Response to Cognitive Training in Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Peter J, Schumacher LV, Landerer V, Abdulkadir A, Kaller CP, Lahr J, Klöppel S.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(1):333-345. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170580

Real-world navigation in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: The relation to visuospatial memory and volume of hippocampal subregions.
Peter J, Sandkamp R, Minkova L, Schumacher LV, Kaller CP, Abdulkadir A, Klöppel S.
Neuropsychologia. 2018 Jan 31;109:86-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.12.014


Anodal tDCS Enhances Verbal Episodic Memory in Initially Low Performers.
Habich A, Klöppel S, Abdulkadir A, Scheller E, Nissen C, Peter J.
Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Nov 7;11:542. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00542

Cross-sectional and longitudinal voxel-based grey matter asymmetries in Huntington's disease.
Minkova L, Gregory S, Scahill RI, Abdulkadir A, Kaller CP, Peter J, Long JD, Stout JC, Reilmann R, Roos RA, Durr A, Leavitt BR, Tabrizi SJ, Klöppel S; TRACK-HD Investigators.
Neuroimage Clin. 2017 Oct 25;17:312-324. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2017.10.023

Gray matter asymmetries in aging and neurodegeneration: A review and meta-analysis.
Minkova L, Habich A, Peter J, Kaller CP, Eickhoff SB, Klöppel S.
Hum Brain Mapp. 2017 Dec;38(12):5890-5904. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23772

APOE moderates compensatory recruitment of neuronal resources during working memory processing in healthy older adults.
Scheller E, Peter J, Schumacher LV, Lahr J, Mader I, Kaller CP, Klöppel S.
Neurobiol Aging. 2017 Aug;56:127-137. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.04.015