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

Eskilsson, T., Fjellman-Wiklund, A., Ek Malmer, E., Stigsdotter Neely, A., Malmberg Gavelin, H., Slunga Järvholm, L., Boraxbekk, C-J. & Nordin, M.(2020). Hopeful struggling for health: Experiences of participating in computerized cognitive training and aerobic training for persons with stress-related exhaustion disorder. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

Friedman, B. B., Suri, S., Solé-Padullés, C., Düzel, S., Drevon, C. A., Baaré, W. F. C., Bartrés-Faz, D., Fjell, A. M., Johansen-Berg, H., Madsen, K. S., Nyberg, L., Penninx, B. W. J. H., Sexton, C., Walhovd, K. B., Zsoldos, E. & Budin-Ljøsne, I. (2020). Are People Ready for Personalized Brain Health? Perspectives of Research Participants in the Lifebrain Consortium. The Gerontologist.

Hansen, A. L., Boraxbekk, C-J., Petersen, E. T., Paulson, O. B., Siebner, H. R. & Marsman, A. (2020). Regional glia-related metabolite levels are higher at older age and scale negatively with visuo-spatial working memory: A cross-sectional proton MR spectroscopy study at 7 tesla on normal cognitive ageing. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. 36 p., 864496.

Karalija, N., Jonassson, L., Johansson, J., Papenberg, G., Salami, A., Andersson, M., Riklund, K., Nyberg, L. & Boraxbekk, C-J. (2020). High long-term test-retest reliability for extrastriatal 11C-raclopride binding in healthy older adults.
Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism.

Wheeler, M. J., Green, D. J., Ellis, K. A., Cerin, E., Heinonen, I., Naylor, L. H., Larsen, R., Wennberg, P., Boraxbekk, C-J., Lewis, J., Eikelis, N., Lautenschlager, N. T., Kingwell, B. A., Lambert, G., Owen, N. & Dunstan, D. W. (2020).
Distinct effects of acute exercise and breaks in sitting on working memory and executive function in older adults: a three-arm, randomised cross-over trial to evaluate the effects of exercise with and without breaks in sitting on cognition.
British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Bangsbo, J., Blackwell, J., Boraxbekk, C-J., Caserotti, P., Dela, F., Evans, A. B., Jespersen, A. P., Gliemann, L., Kramer, A. F., Lundbye-Jensen, J., Mortensen, E. L., Lassen, A. J., Gow, A. J., Harridge, S. D. R., Hellsten, Y., Kjaer, M., Kujala, U. M., Rhodes, R. E., Pike, E. C. J., Skinner, T., Skovgaard, T., Troelsen, J., Tulle, E., Tully, M. A., van Uffelen, J. G. Z. & Viña, J. (2019). Copenhagen Consensus statement 2019: physical activity and ageing. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 53, 14, p. 856-858.

Bojsen-Møller, E., Boraxbekk, C-J., Ekblom, Ö., Blom, V. & Ekblom, M. M. (2019). Relationships between Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Cognitive Functions in Office Workers.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 16, 23, p. 1-15, 4721.

Düzel, E., Acosta-Cabronero, J., Berron, D., Biessels, G. J., Björkman-Burtscher, I., Bottlaender, M., Bowtell, R., Buchem, M. V., Cardenas-Blanco, A., Boumezbeur, F., Chan, D., Clare, S., Costagli, M., de Rochefort, L., Fillmer, A., Gowland, P., Hansson, O., Hendrikse, J., Kraff, O., Ladd, M. E., Ronen, I., Petersen, E., Rowe, J. B., Siebner, H., Stoecker, T., Straub, S., Tosetti, M., Uludag, K., Vignaud, A., Zwanenburg, J. & Speck, O. (2019). European Ultrahigh-Field Imaging Network for Neurodegenerative Diseases (EUFIND). Alzheimer's & dementia (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 11, p. 538-549.

Hedlund, M., Lindelöf, N., Johansson, B., Boraxbekk, C-J. & Rosendahl, E. (2019). Development and Feasibility of a Regulated, Supramaximal High-Intensity Training Program Adapted for Older Individuals. Frontiers in physiology. 10, p. 1-12, 590.

Holm, S. K., Madsen, K. S., Vestergaard, M., Born, A. P., Paulson, O. B., Siebner, H. R., Uldall, P. & Baaré, W. F. C. (2019). Previous glucocorticoid treatment in childhood and adolescence is associated with long-term differences in subcortical grey matter volume and microstructure. NeuroImage. Clinical. 23, p. 1-11, 101825. 

Jonasson, L. S., Nyberg, L., Axelsson, J., Kramer, A. F., Riklund, K. & Boraxbekk, C-J. (2019). Higher striatal D2-receptor availability in aerobically fit older adults but non-selective intervention effects after aerobic versus resistance training. NeuroImage. 202, p. 1-10, 116044.

Magnusson, P. O., Boer, V. O., Marsman, A., Paulson, O. B., Hanson, L. G. & Petersen, E. T. (2019). Gamma-aminobutyric acid edited echo-planar spectroscopic imaging (EPSI) with MEGA-sLASER at 7T.
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 81, 2, p. 773-780.

Månsson, K. N. T., Lindqvist, D., Yang, L. L., Svanborg, C., Isung, J., Nilsonne, G., Bergman-Nordgren, L., El Alaoui, S., Hedman-Lagerlöf, E., Kraepelien, M., Högström, J., Andersson, G., Boraxbekk, C-J., Fischer, H., Lavebratt, C., Wolkowitz, O. M. & Furmark, T. (2019). Improvement in indices of cellular protection after psychological treatment for social anxiety disorder. Translational psychiatry. 9, p. 1-10, 340.

Marsman, A. & Pol, H. H. (2019). Glutamaterge neurotransmissie. Handboek schizofreniespectrumstoornissen. 2nd udg. De Tijdstroom/Boom, Bind 2019. p. 370-385..

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.

Baruël Johansen, L., Madsen, K. S., Andersen, K. W., Madsen, K. H., Siebner, H. R. & Baaré, W. F. C. (2017) Reduced orbitofrontal functional network centrality characterizes high neuroticism across childhood and adolescence.

Stomby, A., Otten, J., Ryberg, M., Nyberg, L., Olsson, T. & Boraxbekk, C-J. (2017). 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.

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

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

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

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

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. (2017). Voxel-based morphometry multi-center mega-analysis of brain structure in social anxiety disorder. NeuroImage: Clinical. 16, p. 678-688.

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

News & Events

Group Members

Carl-Johan Boraxbekk

Group Leader

Esben Thade Petersen

Anouk Marsman

Show all group members (7)

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