The ability to learn complex skills, such as reading, playing an instruments, or flying an airplane, is behind the most remarkable achievements of humankind. For the individual, successful skill learning, for example during schooling, is of great importance for lifelong well being and health. The aims of our research are therefore to discover the principle mechanisms that govern human skill learning and to understand the role that skill learning plays in lifespan development. Ultimately, we hope that the knowledge we gain will aid humans and machines to learn more efficiently.

Learning motor skill

Past theoretical and empirical work, primarily on non-human animals, inspired us to propose an expansion-exploration-selection-refinement (ESR) theory of how the human brain acquires motor skill. Using a mixture of behavioral experiments, behavioral genetics, functional and structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and computational and statistical modeling, we aim to test and refine this theory.

Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2019). Brain plasticity in human lifespan development: The exploration-selection-refinement model. Annual Review of Developmental Psychology, 1, 197-222.

Wenger, E., Brozzoli, C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Expansion and renormalization of human brain structure during skill acquisition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21, 930-939.

Wenger, E., Kühn, S., Verrel, J., Mårtensson, J., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2017). Repeated structural imaging reveals non-linear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 27, 2911-2925.

learning reasoning skill

Classic intelligence theory holds that fluid reasoning ability is little influenced by experience and learning. Recent findings showing that education has effects on such abilities have led us to take a different perspective: Humans acquire reasoning skills through experience. Using mainly behavioral experiments and functional MRI, our ongoing work aims to understand how the acquisition of knowledge and skill influence the capacity of the brain to solve relational reasoning tasks.

Lebedev, A. V., Nilsson, J., & Lövdén, M. (2018). Working memory and reasoning benefit from different modes of large-scale brain dynamics in healthy older adults. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30, 1033-1046.

consequences of skill learning

Education is the major way through which individuals in modern societies acquire complex skills. Using natural experiments and quasi-experimental manipulations of educational attainment, together with outcome data from registers and cohort studies, our ongoing work aims to understand how education affects intelligence, well being, and health over the lifespan.

Seblova, D., Fischer, M., Fors, S., Johnell, K., Karlsson, M., Nilsson, T., Svensson, A. C., Lövdén, M., & Lager, A. (2021). Does prolonged education causally affect dementia risk when adult socioeconomic status is not altered? A Swedish natural experiment on 1.3 million individuals. American Journal of Epidemiology, 190, 817-826.

Lövdén, M., Fratiglioni, L., Glymour, M., Lindenberger, U., & Tucker- Drob, E. (2020). Education and cognitive functioning across the lifespan. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 21, 6-41.

Lager, A., Seblova, D., Falkstedt, D., & Lövdén, M (2017). Cognitive and emotional outcomes after prolonged education: A quasi-experiment on 320 182 Swedish boys. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46, 303-311.