About the Centre

The Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research is dedicated to studying the causes of psychiatric disorders as well as the causes of individual differences in cognitive development, with an emphasis on adulthood and old age. Computational models of differences and changes in brain-behavior relations are the Centre’s major theoretical tool. The Centre’s findings will provide information on how cognitive functioning can be maintained into old age and on how psychiatric disorders can be better recognized and treated more efficiently.

The Centre was founded in April 2014 and is the result of an existing collaboration between the Max Planck Society and University College London that began in 2011. The Centre is headed by Ray Dolan (University College London) and Ulman Lindenberger (Max Planck Institute for Human Development) and is located in London and Berlin. The London site is at Russell Square, in close vicinity to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. The Berlin site is housed at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Background and Methods

Psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, or autism often escape successful treatment. Some disease-related molecular and structural changes in the brain have been identified, but viable accounts of how these changes relate to behavior are missing. Likewise, the associations between changes in brain and behavior in the course of normal and pathological cognitive aging are not well understood. Computational models offer a powerful means for bridging these gaps. Scientists can alter models of normally behaving younger adults to simulate the alleged causes of cognitive aging or psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression). In the next step they can check whether such alterations result in predicted behavioral deficiencies that resemble those observed in older adults, or in individuals who are in a disease state of interest (e.g., depressed patients). Scientists at the Centre will relate data on the structure and functioning of the brain to detailed behavioral observations of individuals and deduce prognoses for their development.

Research Team

Two Co-Directors head the Centre: Ray Dolan for University College London and Ulman Lindenberger for the Max Planck Society.

In addition, a Coordination Committee represents the four research institutions most directly involved in the Centre: the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit (Peter Dayan), the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences (Arno Villringer), the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Ulman Lindenberger), and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging (Ray Dolan).

On April 9, 2014, the Max Planck Forum presented the new Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research at the British Embassy in Berlin. You can watch the video of the panel discussion with Prof. Dr. Raymond Dolan, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, Prof. Dr. Ulman Lindenberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, and Prof. Dr. Arno Villringer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, here. The discussion was presented by Steve Ayan, science journalist, Gehirn & Geist.

Contact

Max Planck UCL Centre for
Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research
c/o Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Helena Maravilla
Lentzeallee 94
14195 Berlin
E-Mail: mps-ucl@mpib-berlin.mpg.de
Max Planck UCL Centre for
Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research
c/o Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging
Marina Anderson, PA to Prof R Dolan
12 Queen Square, Box 68
London, WC1N 3BG
E-Mail: marina.anderson@ucl.ac.uk