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Cognitive Abilities and Competences

Cognitive abilities and competences are known to play a crucial role in education, job performance, and everyday life. In the research network Brain and Behavior, the research group Cognitive Abilities and Competencies is devoted to the investigation of cognitive traits from a psychometric and neuroscientific perspective. Relevant traits encompass, for example, basic competences such as skills in reading, writing and arithmetic, broader cognitive abilities such as intelligence, creativity, and attention control, but also social-emotional competences and motivation.

Central goals of this research group include:

  • Development of tests for a more accurate, efficient, and valid cognitive assessment.
  • Investigation of the neural correlates of specific abilities and deficits.
  • Testing effects of cognitive trainings and interventions on performance and brain plasticity.
  • Conception, development, and evaluation of tests and admission procedures particularly at school and university level and for public service.

In our research, we use and combine available state-of-the art methods: Available psychometric tests rely on probabilistic test theory, adaptive testing, and automatic item generation. Brain imaging is carried out with different techniques including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Electroencephalography (EEG), which provide a comprehensive parametrization of functional and structural properties of the brain. Further commonly used assessments include eye tracking, psychophysiological measurements, and brain stimulation via transcranial electrical stimulation (tES).

Current funded projects

  • Ocular mechanisms in internally directed cognition (EyeMag 2). 2021-2024. Funded by FWF (Austrian Science Foundation). PI: Mathias Benedek.
  • Personalisiertes, adaptives Informationssystem zur Unterstützung von berufsrelevanten Entscheidungen (PAISA). 2020-2021. Funded by Arbeiterkammer Steiermark (Chamber of Employees, Styria). PI: Dietrich Albert.
  • Einflussfaktoren auf Dropout, Studien- und Berufserfolg von Lehramtsstudierenden. 2018-2021. Funded by OeNB Anniversary Fund (Österreichische Nationalbank). PI: Aljoscha Neubauer.
  • PädagogInnenbildung Neu – Development and Implementation of a common selection procedure for teacher students. Since 2013.Funded by HRSM Fund from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. PI: Aljoscha Neubauer.
  • Steirisches Talentecenter der WKO – Automatische Generierung und Bereitstellung von Testaufgaben zur Messung kognitiver Fähigkeiten sowie eines Fragebogens zur Erfassung von Interessenausrichtungen [Styrian talent center. Assessment of cognitive abilities and interests]. 2016 – 2020. Funded by Gemeinden und Gemeindeverbände (ohne Wien). PI: Martin Arendasy, Roland Grabner, & Manuela Paechter.
  • Testothek, since 2013. PI: Martin Arendasy
  • Projekt MedAT (Zulassungsverfahren der österr. Medizinischen Universitäten zu den Diplomstudien Humanmedizin & Zahnmedizin [Admission test for Medical University]), since 2012. PI: Martin Arendasy.
  • Evaluation of the admission procedure for prison guards, since 2016. PI: Martin Arendasy & Martina Feldhammer.


Representative publications

  • Arendasy, M. E., Sommer, M., Gutiérrez-Lobos, K., & Punter, J. F. (2016). Do individual differences in test preparation compromise the measurement fairness of admission tests?. Intelligence, 55, 44-56
  • Fink, A., Benedek, M., Koschutnig, K., Pirker, E., Berger, E., Meister, S., Neubauer, A.C., Papousek, I., Weiss, E.M. Training of verbal creativity modulates brain activity in regions associated with language- and memory-related demands. Human Brain Mapping, 36, 4104-4115.
  • Grabner, R.H. & Vogel, S. (2015). Special Issue ”Facets of the mathematical brain – from number processing to mathematical problem solving” in Mind, Brain, and Education, 9.
  • Jauk, E., Neubauer, A.C., Dunst, B., Fink, A., & Benedek, M. (2015). Gray matter correlates of creative potential: A latent variable voxel-based morphometry study. NeuroImage, 111, 312-320
  • Lackner, H.K., Gramer, M., Paechter, M., Wimmer, S., Hinghofer-Szalkay, H., & Papousek, I. (2015). Academic goal orientation and cardiovascular reactivity in a performance situation. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 40, 189-200
  • Witte, M., Kober, S.E., Ninaus, M., Neuper, C., Wood, G. (2013). Control beliefs can predict the ability to up-regulate sensorimotor rhythm during neurofeedback training. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15 : 478.


Assoz. Prof. Mag.rer.nat. Dr.phil.

Mathias Benedek

Assoz. Prof. Mag.rer.nat. Dr.phil. Mathias Benedek Institut für Psychologie
Phone:+43 316 380 - 8475

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