The International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE) is a joint international PhD Program of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and the University of Zurich.

The goal of the Research School is the study of the systematic changes in human behavior over evolutionary and ontogenetic time. The general approach is aimed at advancing the behavioral and social science of human development. LIFE takes an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding human development in a changing world, connecting evolutionary, ontogenetic, historical, and institutional perspectives. The focus is on the evolution and interaction of individual and institutional development.

The curriculum combines psychology, educational science, neuroscience, and biology, focussing especially on the dynamics of human behavior on different time scales.

Open Lecture Series in June and July 2020!

The LIFE Theory Lab: Contemporary theorizing, methodological advancements,  and future challenges for  lifespan developmental science

Arguably, human ontogentic development is more than a simple story of growth during childhood and decline with advancing age. Rather, the intricate interplay between genetic dispositions, environmental opportunities, biological mechanisms, and personal experiences shapes a unique intellectual and emotional repertoire across the lifespan. Since its foundations ~ 50 years ago (e.g., Baltes et al., 1977), lifespan developmental science has aimed at deriving general principles describing ontogenetic change in intellectual, emotional, and social functions integrating and transforming insights from child-development and aging research (e.g., Baltes et al., 1999; Craik & Bialystok, 2006). This view was further pushed by fusing advances in modelling of behavioral change with modern genetic and neuroscientific methods broadening the scope of developmental thinking from the behavioral sciences to nearby biological, medical, and artificial intelligence fields. 

The present lecture series has been conceived as a virtual, open-science exchange on conceptual and methodological advances in the study of behavioral development across the lifespan. It is meant to provide leading researchers with a platform to speak about their views on the ways in which the interplay between theory and methods has informed scientific progress in the study of human behavioral development.

The lecture series promotes open formats of science dissemination. Technically, the lectures will rely on GoToWebinar. Lecture attendees will be given the opportunity to register for free with their email addresses. In addition, each session will be recorded, and made available on the LIFE video channel of the MPI for Human Development at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVWzJFaTnS4Bo73emm98jnw/about.
If you want to participate please contact Silke Schäfer, imprs-life [at] mpib-berlin [dot] mpg [dot] de


June 04, 2020
Tomás Ryan (Trinity College Dublin)
"Memory and instinct as a continuum of information storage"

June 11, 2020
Charles Nelson (Harvard University)
"Critical Periods in Early Human Development"
June 18, 2020
Candice Odgers (Duke University)
"Charting Individual Development"
June 25, 2020
Eric Turkheimer (University of Virginia)
"Gene – Environment Interplay"
July 02, 2020
Lars Nyberg (Umea University)
"Lifespan Maintenance of Brain and Cognition – Fiction or Science?"
July 09, 2020
Gerd Kempermann  (Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden)
"Adult Neurogenesis, Enriched Environments, and the Neurobiology of Life-style dependent Resilience"
June 16, 2020
Danielle Bassett (University of Pennsylvania)
"Structure-Function Couplings in Human Brain Development"
July 23, 2020
Iyad Rahwan (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
"Machine behavior: A research agenda for a society permeated by artificial intelligence"
July 30, 2020
Ulman Lindenberger (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)
"Why We Need a Lifespan Approach to Developmental Change"

Further Information

Go to LIFE Program to find out more about the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE).

For access to the internal website, click here.


Please find information about the application process here.

LIFE Co-Speakers

Ulman Lindenberger
MPI for Human Development

Clemens Tesch-Römer
(Associate Co-Speaker)
Freie Universität Berlin

Toni C. Antonucci
University of Michigan

Jacqui Smith
(Associate Co-Speaker)
University of Michigan

Steven M. Boker
University of Virginia

Alexandra M. Freund
University of Zurich