Profile Initiative: Mechanisms of Change (MoC)
Change is a fundamental component of human life. It affects and is affected by the biology, behavior, cognition, and emotions of individuals, groups, social collectives, and societies at large. Humans are especially equipped to adapt to change, and to change their environment. This is apparent in the enormous capacity of the brain to adjust its functional and structural organization across the individual lifespan, in the complex temporal dynamics of social collectives such as groups and organizations, as well as in broader societal change over time.
The overarching goal of the current initiative is to capture and quantify the mechanisms underlying change in human systems and reveal causes and consequences of change on and across multiple levels (i.e., within and between individuals, groups and societies). What are the mechanisms underlying change of human cognition and behavior? How is change mediated in neural, bodily, artificial, and social systems? Why does change changes across the lifespan? How do human interactions with automated and artificial systems change our behavioral and cognitive dynamics? How do individuals and organizations shape and adapt to societal and technological change? What are optimal time scales of change in different systems? What is the backbone of change in neural, cognitive and social systems that allows change without risking collapse?
The identification of key mechanisms of change requires a multimethod approach, depending on the level at which change is assessed. These methods include observational, experimental, neuroscientific, and modelling approaches, cross-sectional and longitudinal assessments, as well as prospective and retrospective approaches. s. Insights into the basic mechanisms of change gained from the MoC initiative are key to understanding the conditions which enable the emergence of adaptive systems with an optimal balance of plasticity and stability, and to derive methods to detect and overcome hindrances of change in diseased, disturbed, and no longer adaptive human and societal systems.