I am interested in understanding age differences across the lifespan in cognitive and attentional control.
To explore age-specific challenges in these cognitive functions during response conflicts and decision making, I make use of (neuro)physiological measures that allow to inform age differences in behavioral measures. These include EEG, fMRI and pupillometry.
A current focus lies on understanding how the noradrenergic system is changing in healthy ageing and dementia. These are still early days of understanding how noradrenaline influences cognitive functions, but recent studies show its involvement in emotional memory and attentional control (see also selected publications). In Alzheimer's Disease, the noradrenergic system is one of the first to show brain lesions related to pathological protein accumulations. Indeed, brain pathologies in the noradrenergic locus coeruleus are probably already apparent before cognitive problems reach clinical levels. By using non invasive imaging methods to detect these earliest changes in noradrenergic brain structures and their function, I hope to help to detect AD earlier. Moreover, target areas of noradrenergic projections are likely increasing their sensitivity to a reduced noradrenergic supply from the LC. In my future studies, I am therefore using the novel in vivo methods for imaging LC structure and function also to understand better individual differences in early Alzheimer's patients responses to pharmacological interventions that aim at boosting noradrenergic function.