Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research


Raymond J. Dolan (University College London, London, UK)
Ulman Lindenberger (MPI for Human Development, Berlin, Germany)

Deputy Directors

Arno Villringer (MPI for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany)
Quentin Huys (University College London, London, UK)

Research Scientists (Berlin Site)

Andreas M. Brandmaier
Douglas D. Garrett
Simone Kühn
Ulman Lindenberger
Nicolas W. Schuck


The behavioral neurosciences and related disciplines have seen spectacular scientific advances that make them rich in scientific opportunity. These advances have made it possible to work toward a mechanistic understanding of behavioral aging and psychopathology, two empirically overlapping fields of great importance to science and society. In both fields, it is key to take a personalized lifespan approach by identifying neural and behavioral parameters that predict more or less favorable trajectories, with the intent to intervene in time when undesirable outcomes are expected.

With these goals in mind, the Max Planck Society and University College London (UCL) established the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research in 2014, with both partners providing an initial 5 years of funding. In 2018, the Centre was positively evaluated by the Max Planck Society and extended for another 5 years (2019–2024). The Centre has two sites, one in London (Russell Square) and the other in Berlin-Dahlem at the MPI for Human Development (see Table 1). It has continued to grow both in scope and number of students. Combined across Berlin and London sites, the Centre currently comprises 77 members (faculty, fellows, and students).

The Centre’s foundation was preceded by a 3-year preparatory phase, which also included the organization of the First Symposium and Advanced Course on Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research in 2012 at Ringberg Castle, Bavaria. During the reporting period, the Centre organized the fifth symposium of this kind in 2022 at Schloss Marbach (see photos); the symposium in 2020 had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2016, the Centre launched the International Max Planck Research School on Computational Methods in Psychiatry and Ageing Research (COMP2PSYCH) to extend its reach into graduate education. After a successful evaluation in September 2020, the graduate program of the Centre was extended for a second 6-year term until September 30, 2028.

Research Groups

Three MPIB research groups form the Centre in Berlin:

In London, six research groups form the basis of the Centre:

A full overview of the Centre’s activities can be found on the Centre’s website.


Leveraging the unique skill and interest set at each site, a number of collaborations between the Berlin and London Centre sites continue to develop. For example, the Lifespan Neural Dynamics Group (PI Douglas Garrett) collaborates with the Developmental Psychiatry Group (PI Tobias Hauser) on the behavioral and neural bases of explore–exploit decision making across the lifespan, and with the Metacognition and Computational Psychiatry Group (PI Steve Fleming) on the connections between behavioral and neural uncertainty. Further, the MPRG NeuroCode (PI Nicolas Schuck) is collaborating with the Applied Computational Psychiatry Group (PI Quentin Huys) on a project to investigate mind wandering in healthy subjects vs. depressed patients using fMRI decoding techniques, and has co-authored a review about decoding cognition from spontaneous neural activity with the Dolan group (Liu et al., 2022). Also, a cross-site, in-depth workshop on “Data management with DataLad” was organized by MPRG NeuroCode member Lennart Wittkuhn in November 2020. The workshop centered around DataLad, an open-source software tool for data management and data publication. Participants learned about core concepts of effective research data management, such as joint version control of code and data, provenance capture for reproducible analysis, organizational principles for data analysis, and workflows and services for data publication and collaboration.

Table 1. Max Planck UCL Centre Members* at the MPIB (as of 03/2023)

NameCenter/Research GroupPosition
Andreas BrandmaierLifespan PsychologyGroup Leader
Simon CirankaAdaptive RationalityPostdoc
Douglas D. GarrettLifespan Neural Dynamics Group & Lifespan PsychologyGroup Leader
Shany GrossmanMax Planck Research Group NeuroCodePostdoc
Sam Hall-MacmasterMax Planck Research Group NeuroCodePostdoc
Simone KühnLise Meitner Group for Environmental NeuroscienceGroup Leader
Ulman LindenbergerLifespan PsychologyDirector
Nicolas W. SchuckMax Planck Research Group NeuroCodeGroup Leader
Leonhard WaschkeLifespan Neural Dynamics Group & Lifespan PsychologyPostdoc
Lennart WittkuhnMax Planck Research Group NeuroCodePostdoc
Ondrej ZikaMax Planck Research Group NeuroCodePostdoc

* For doctoral students, see IMPRS COMP2PSYCH.
Note that Simon Ciranka and Lennart Wittkuhn are COMP2PSYCH alumni, that is, they completed their graduate training within COMP2PSYCH.

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