project Neurophysiological correlates of personality-cognition relations

Neurophysiological correlates of personality-cognition relations across the adult lifespan [Seed Funding]

It is well established that cognitive functions show pronounced decline with increasing age. However, longitudinal studies revealed considerable variation between cognitive decline, stability and even increase in older adults. Understanding the mechanisms of these variations and identifying the predictors of why some people age more successfully than others is an essential scientific endeavor. Using electroencephalography, this project will investigate the neural correlates of the relationship between personality and cognition across the adult lifespan. The project is part of the Healthy Lifespan theme.

Personality research has a long tradition of identifying predictors of individual behavior by focusing on differences of traits, such as Extraversion. For example, higher Extraversion is associated with higher social activity and subjective well-being. However, research on personality or cognitive aging were conducted mainly independently form each other, and the few studies investigating links between personality traits and cognitive decline remained mainly correlative in nature with underlying mechanisms still open to be explored. Our research aim is to uncover the neural correlates of personality-cognition relations by using electroencephalography (EEG) across the adult lifespan.

Our project consists of two parts: In the first part, healthy younger and older adults will be recruited to answer an extensive online questionnaire on different personality measures, cognitive tasks and measures for wellbeing and lifestyle. The aim of this part is to investigate in detail the link between personality and cognition and to prescreen for relevant personality profiles to be included in the second part of the project. In the second part, younger and older adults scoring high versus low on extraversion will be invited to the lab to work on cognitive tasks to assess neurophysiological markers of personality traits using EEG.

Understanding the mechanisms of why some people age more successfully than others is an essential scientific undertaking, that can only be achieved by an interdisciplinary approach. This project connects personality, cognitive, neurophysiological, and developmental psychology.

The research team

Dr. Alexandra Hering is Assistant professor at the Department for Developmental Psychology. Her research expertise encompasses cognitive aging and lifespan development combining both behavioral and neuroscientific measures using the EEG.

Dr. Geert van Boxtel is Associate professor at the Department for Cognitive Neuropsychology. His research expertise is on advanced psychophysiological analyses of relationship between brain and behavior.

Dr. Gabriel Olaru is Assistant professor at the Department for Developmental psychology. His research expertise includes personality development and assessment as well as advanced statistical skills (e.g., structure equation modeling).

Dr. Yvonne Brehmer is Full professor at the Department for Developmental psychology. Her research expertise is on predictors of individual differences in memory functioning across the lifespan.   


Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.