Lifespan Lab


The Lifespan Developmental Psychology Lab is currently working on five projects.

The Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions

Boston Roybal Logo

Grant# P30 AG048785.

The Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions is a collaboration among researchers from five Boston-area institutions to develop and test novel, evidence-based programs that promote healthy aging through an active and engaged lifestyle. The center, based at Brandeis University and directed by Dr. Margie Lachman, funds pilot projects focusing on strategies to increase and sustain active engagement in vulnerable populations of middle-aged and older adults. This research is supported by the Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyle Interventions (RALI Boston).

To find out more information please visit the Boston Roybal Center website.

Integrative Pathways to Cognitive, Affective, and Brain Health

Stefan lab poster

Collaborators: Carol Ryff, MPI, Stacey Schaefer, MPI, Sterling Johnson, MPI, University of Wisconsin

Grant# U01 AG077928

The Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study is part of a large project in which we collaborate with investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and several other universities. We analyze a large longitudinal data set of more than 7,000 adults, ages 25 to 85, from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) national survey and a refresher sample. Our questions focus on identifying modifiable psychosocial and behavioral factors that help to reduce aging-related declines in health and cognition.

We have found a number of important dimensions that are protective and can attenuate declines especially for those who are most vulnerable or at highest risk for problems, that is, those with less education and those who are older. Since 1995 the MIDUS study has been funded by the following: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network; National Institute on Aging: (P01 AG020166; U19 AG051426); U01 AG077928. 

In the current grant we will administer cognitive assessments to the MIDUS Refresher cohort and the main MIDUS sample.  We will test hypotheses regarding cognitive decline and the precursors of AD/ADRD and neurovascular disease via cumulative stress over 30 years and consider socioeconomic and race disparities and resilience. The protective influence of biopsychosocial resources, affective style, and lifestyle factors assessed over multiple prior waves of MIDUS will be examined in relation to early indicators to gain a better understanding of the relations of these factors to cognitive impairment and dementia. These new assessments and analyses offer ground-breaking science on mechanisms to advance prevention, including development of interventions and treatments for aging declines and dementia.


Massachusetts AI and Technology Center for Connected Care in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease (MAITC)

Grant# P30 AG073107   

The Massachusetts AI and Technology Center for Connected Care in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease (MassAITC), a National Institute on Aging (NIA) Collaboratory, will foster interdisciplinary research on the development, validation, and translation of AI-enhanced technologies to improve connections between older adults, caregivers, and clinicians in order to more effectively support healthy aging and the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) at home. 

Collaborators: Deepak Ganesan, MPI, University of Massachusetts, Niteesh Choudhry, MPI, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The MAITC accomplishes this mission by: 

  • Conducting a rigorous and ongoing needs assessment and technology identification process with deep commitment to stakeholder engagement.
  • Establishing and growing a multidisciplinary network of researchers and practitioners.
  • Providing access to state-of-art validation facilities to enable rapid, robust and multi-faceted validation of AI-enhanced technologies that starts in the lab and extends to real-world at-home settings. 
  • Exploring innovative technologies by supporting pilot projects that propose forward-looking solutions with the potential to significantly improve successful aging and AD/ADRD care. 
  • Providing training to developers, clinicians, and other stakeholders.

The Lifespan Lab and Boston Roybal Center have a subcontract with the MAITC.  Margie Lachman is PI for the Aging Pilot Core.  The goals of this core are

  1. To solicit and select the most meritorious pilot studies to develop and test novel technologies that can support the independence, health, and well-being of older adults.
  2. Provide oversight, mentorship, guidance, and support for pilot investigators and their projects.
  3. Assist pilot investigators in refining their methods and translating their technologies for clinical, industry, and research use.

Psychosocial Risk and Resilience Mechanisms Underlying Diversity in Midlife Health, Well-Being, and Cognition

Collaborators: Frank Infurna, MPI, Denis Gerstorf, MPI

Grant# R01AG079523

The Lifespan Lab has a subcontract from Arizona State University for this project.

Our specific aims are: (1) describe similarities and differences in midlife development of health, well-being, and cognition across multiple nations; (2) investigate the intergenerational, financial, and health behavior mechanisms driving diversity in midlife development; and (3) to examine the role of individual-level characteristics that moderate diversity in midlife development. To address our research questions, multilevel models will be applied to harmonized longitudinal data (collected from early 1990s to present day) from 17 nations across North America, Asia, and Europe. Each dataset contains national samples that are repeatedly assessed on interdisciplinary outcomes. This project will provide novel insights into identifying the intergenerational, financial, and health behavior mechanisms underlying diversity in midlife development and whether they are operating similarly across nations with different policy contexts. Findings from our project will also shed light on factors that can promote resilient outcomes and inform future prevention and intervention efforts.

Perceived Control and Cognitive Aging: Pathways to Preserve Cognitive Functioning and Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in Socioeconomically Diverse Populations

The Lifespan Lab has a subcontract with North Dakota State University

Collaborators:  Jeremy Hamm, PI, Jacquie Mogle, Katherine Duggan

Grant# R01 AG075117

We will pursue the following specific aims: 1) identify the motivation, emotion, and health behavior change processes that mediate the association between perceived control and multi-timescale changes in cognitive functioning; 2) determine the extent to which the association between perceived control and multi-timescale changes in cognitive functioning is more pronounced for middle-aged and older adults with limited socioeconomic resources. We will pursue these aims using an innovative approach that generates new micro-longitudinal data and also leverages pre-existing macro-longitudinal data. The proposed research will address the urgent need to identify modifiable psychological and behavioral factors underlying socioeconomic disparities in cognitive aging and the timescales (days, months, years) at which these factors have their strongest influence. This knowledge will inform evidence-based approaches on when (at which timescale) it is most effective to target changes in psychobehavioral resources to preserve cognitive functioning for populations at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias.