Healthy Ageing

The vision for the Healthy Ageing group is to identify and to optimize sustainable interventional strategies for improved or maintained brain health throughout the lifespan. The mission is to conduct interdisciplinary population-based neuroscience research that provides unique insights into the neuro-cognitive mechanisms of brain and cognitive ageing, with a particular emphasis on novel interventions for neuro-enhancement.


The particular focus is on life-style factors, such as physical activity, and by combining advanced brain mapping techniques with extensive behavioural testing, we are beginning to understand the neural and behavioural effects. In the future, we aim at also including physiologically tailored brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial alternating current stimulation (TACS), as a potential interventional strategy for neuro-enhancement in aging. We also aim at moving closer towards understanding motor control in aging, with particular focus on the interplay between cognitive and motor performances. In all our projects, we strive for high academic standards, innovative methods and techniques, and an ambitious, fun and diverse work environment.

Key projects

In collaboration with Lars Nyberg and Umeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI – LINK, CJ Boraxbekk is PI for the world’s first interventional study examining how physical activity influences the dopaminergic system in ageing (PHIBRA). Before and after a randomized exercise intervention, multimodal brain imaging was acquired, including Raclopride-PET (for dopamine (D2) receptor availability), structural MRI, functional connectivity (resting state fMRI) and blood perfusion (ASL). Participants also underwent tests of cognitive functions and physical fitness.

We also contribute to population neuroscience research by being part of several cohort studies. Associate Professor Ellen Garde is managing the Live active healthy ageing (LISA) study and the LifeMabs. Lisa is a 1-year physical training intervention comparing moderate with high intensity resistance training. The study includes 450 community-dwelling healthy individuals aged 62-70 years, and besides from MRI scans of the brain, also physical and cognitive assessments are performed. The study was initiated with Bispebjerg Hospital and Centre for Healthy Ageing, University of Copenhagen. The long-term follow-ups (2-10 years) will provide possibilities to track individual late-life ageing trajectories. The LifeMabs aims at understanding the effect of early-life exposures and developmental aspects on midlife MRI and behavioural readouts. Here, 400 middle-aged individuals that previously participated in The Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort (CPC), the Prenatal Development Project (PDP) as well as the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank (CAMB) are included. Combining early life information with psychological assessment and high-resolution quantitative MR imaging techniques in late midlife, a unique database is developed. LifeMabs is conducted in collaboration with Department of Public Health and Centre for Healthy Ageing, Copenhagen University. 

We work in close collaboration with other groups at the DRCMR, and also with local groups across Copenhagen and international research centres. We are always looking for talented, enthusiastic and motivated group members, so if you have an interest in interventions and lifespan brain imaging, do not hesitate to contact us.

Selected Publications

Baruël Johansen, L., Madsen, K. S., Andersen, K. W., Madsen, K. H., Siebner, H. R. & Baaré, W. F. C.
Reduced orbitofrontal functional network centrality characterizes high neuroticism across childhood and adolescence.

Sommer, M., Häger C.K., Boraxbekk, C.J., Rönnqvist, L. (2018). Timing training in female soccer players: Effects on skilled movement performance and brain responses. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12: 311.

Malmberg Gavelin, H., Eskilsson, T., Boraxbekk, C.J., Josefsson, M., Stigsdotter Neely, A., & Slunga Järvholm L. (2018). Rehabilitation for improved cognition in patients with stress-related exhaustion disorder: RECO – a randomized clinical trial. Stress.

Boraxbekk, C.-J. (2018). Non-invasive brain stimulation and neuro-enhancement in aging. Clinical Neurophysiology, 129, 464-65.

Rey Calvo, N., Reislev, N. L., Mortensen, E. L., Boraxbekk, C-J., Siebner, H. R. & Garde, E.
Analyses and characterisation of brain aging patterns - a cohort based multimodal MRI study.

Stomby, A., Otten, J., Ryberg, M., Nyberg, L., Olsson, T. & Boraxbekk, C-J.
A Paleolithic Diet with and without Combined Aerobic and Resistance Exercise Increases Functional Brain Responses and Hippocampal Volume in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes.
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 9, 391 2017.

Månsson, K. N. T., Salami, A., Carlbring, P., Boraxbekk, C-J., Andersson, G. & Furmark, T.
Structural but not functional neuroplasticity one year after effective cognitive behaviour therapy for social anxiety disorder.
Behavioural brain research. 318, p. 45-51, 2017.

Jonasson, L. S., Axelsson, J., Riklund, K. & Boraxbekk, C.-J.
Simulating effects of brain atrophy in longitudinal PET imaging with an anthropomorphic brain phantom.
Physics in Medicine and Biology. 62, 13, p. 5213-5227, 2017.

Gavelin, H. M., Neely, A. S., Andersson, M., Eskilsson, T., Järvholm, L. S. & Boraxbekk, C-J.
Neural activation in stress-related exhaustion: Cross-sectional observations and interventional effects.
Psychiatry Research. 269, p. 17-25, 2017.

Flodin, P., Jonasson, L. S., Riklund, K., Nyberg, L. & Boraxbekk, C.-J.
Does Aerobic Exercise Influence Intrinsic Brain Activity?: An Aerobic Exercise Intervention among Healthy Old Adults.
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 9, p. 267, 2017.

Eskilsson, T., Slunga Järvholm, L., Malmberg Gavelin, H., Stigsdotter Neely, A. & Boraxbekk, C-J.
Aerobic training for improved memory in patients with stress-related exhaustion: a randomized controlled trial.
BMC Psychiatry. 17, 322, p. 1-10, 322 2017.

Bas-Hoogendam, J. M., van Steenbergen, H., Nienke Pannekoek, J., Fouche, J. P., Lochner, C., Hattingh, C. J., Cremers, H. R., Furmark, T., Månsson, K. N. T., Frick, A., Engman, J., Boraxbekk, C.-J., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., Fredrikson, M., Straube, T., Peterburs, J., Klumpp, H., Phan, K. L., Roelofs, K., Veltman, D. J., van Tol, M. J., Stein, D. J. & van der Wee, N. J. A.
Voxel-based morphometry multi-center mega-analysis of brain structure in social anxiety disorder.
NeuroImage: Clinical. 16, p. 678-688, 2017.

Jonasson, L.S., Nyberg, L., Kramer, A.F., Lundquist, A., Riklund, K., & Boraxbekk, C.-J. (2017). Aerobic exercise intervention, cognitive performance, and brain structure: Results from the physical influences on brain in aging (PHIBRA) study. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience; 8, 336.

Boraxbekk, C.-J., Salami, A., Wåhlin, A., & Nyberg, L. (2016). Physical activity over a decade modifies age-related decline in perfusion, gray matter volume, and functional connectivity of the posterior default mode network - a multimodal approach. NeuroImage; 131, 133-141

Gaist D*, Garde E*, Blaabjerg M, Nielsen HH, Krøigård T, Østergaard K, Møller HS, Hjelmborg J, Madsen CG, Iversen P, Kyvik KO, Siebner HR, Ashina M. (2016). Migraine with aura and risk of silent brain infarcts and white matter hyperintensities: an MRI study. Brain; 139(7), 2015-2023

Gauthier CJ, Lefort M, Mekary S, Desjardins-Crépeau L, Skimminge A, Iversen P, Madjar C, Desjardins M, Lesage F, Garde E, Frouin F, Bherer L, Hoge RD. (2015). Hearts and minds: linking vascular rigidity and aerobic fitness with cognitive aging. Neurobiology of Aging; 36(1), 304-314

News & Events

Group Members

Carl-Johan Boraxbekk

Group Leader

Esben Thade Petersen

Anouk Marsman

Anna Lind Hansen

Show all associated staff

External Collaborators

Prof. Erik Lykke Mortensen

Department of Public Health, Copenhagen University

Prof. Michael Kjær

Department of Clinical Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital, University of Copenhagen

Prof. Gunhild Waldemar

Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet 

Prof. Lars Nyberg

Umeå Center for  Functional Brain Imaging