Jan Theeuwes Professor and Head of Experimental and Applied Psychology
My main interest is to acquire fundamental knowledge on a wide array of subjects including perception, attention, memory and emotion using a wide range of methods, including behavioral (RT measurement), eye tracking, functional MRI, psychophysiological recordings (e.g., ERP), patient work and modeling. I published papers on attentional and oculomotor capture, working memory, multimodal integration, remapping, face perception, visual search, emotion, unconscious processing, the attentional blink, reward processing as well as several applied papers involving road design and headlamp glare.
Geert J.P. Savelsbergh Professor and Head of section Motor Leaning and Performance
My research interest is the visual regulation of coordinated movements and to apply from the perception-action perspective fundamental concepts (e.g. anticipation) in the rehabilitation and sport context, especially for talent identification and development.
Lydia Krabbendam Professor and Head of Educational Neuroscience
My research focuses on social cognition. I am particularly interested in the development of typical and atypical social cognition during adolescence and young adulthood, and how the social context impacts on this development. I use behavioral paradigms, EEG and functional MRI; effects of social context are investigated using observational methods, questionnaires, mindset priming and social network analyses.
Andreas Daffertshofer Professor and Head of section Coordination Dynamics
My general interest is in the complex dynamics of motor-related neural systems and its formal and conceptual assessment in terms of nonlinear dynamics, non-equilibrium statistics, and synergetics. The groups’ research activities address movement stability and the accompanying neural activity across the cortex and along the cortico-spinal tract. We analyze M/EEG & HD-EMG recordings to pinpoint neuro-physiologically motivated, stochastic neural mass models for neural information transfer during sensorimotor performance.
Mark van Vugt Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology
My main interest is to acquire knowledge on a wide range of topics in evolutionary social, and organizational psychology. I am particularly interested in how insights from evolutionary psychology can explain leadership, status, social decision-making, intergroup relations and sustainability. In my work I use a range of methods from social and organizational neuroscience such as behavioral measures (economic games, reaction times), cognitive methods (face perception), virtual reality, hormonal measures, psychophysiological recordings, and functional fMRI. In my work I am trying to build connections between the fields of evolutionary psychology and social/organizational neuroscience.
Paul van Lange Professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
Most of my basic research on human cooperation and trust is grounded in psychological, cultural, and evolutionary theorizing of prosocial processes (such as forgiveness, generosity, empathy), fairness and morality, as well as hostility, aggression, and violence. These topics are examined with economic games, new behavioral methods in cognition and social decision making, as well as various biological mechanisms (fMRI, hormonal analysis). I have also published research on societal issues, such as aggression and superstition in soccer, corruption and culture, power and obedience, sacrifice in relationships and organizations, environmental and financial decision making, and safety in society.
Chris Olivers Professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My research focuses on visual perception, attention, and multisensory processing, as well as their interactions with working memory, long term memory and cognitive control mechanisms. I use a variety of experimental paradigms and measures, from visual search to rapid serial presentation, and from eye movements to EEG. One of the most important features of human vision is that it is selective. It flexibly samples the environment on the basis of what is relevant to our current tasks – tasks such as driving, finding a product in the supermarket, or collecting a child from school. This means that the brain maintains some representation of what we are currently looking for, be it a traffic sign, a coffee brand, or a kid’s face. This “picture in your head”, or “template” as it is often referred to, remains a mystery. Current models of visual exploration assume it to be there, but without making explicit what its properties and mechanisms are. I want to understand this central concept of perceptual theory, by systematically investigating what distinguishes the template from other types of memory, how many templates can be active at a time, how we set up, change, and abandon the template with changing task demands, and how training changes the nature, dynamics and capacity of the template.
Joshua Tybur Associate Professor at Social and Organizational Psychology
I aim to better understand the adaptations that underlie human pathogen avoidance. In doing so, my research investigates how people detect pathogens (e.g., through visual, olfactory, and audio cues), how they learn what in their environment is pathogenic (based on both individual and social learning), and how and why people vary in their pathogen-avoidance tendencies (e.g., disgust sensitivity). I use a variety of methods to investigate these questions, including those used by cognitive psychologists, social psychologists, personality psychologists, and behavioral geneticists. This work is currently funded by a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant.
Daniel Balliet Associate professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
I am interested in understanding human cooperation in dyads and groups. Cooperation can be defined as behavior that provides benefits to others. I am especially interested in testing theories about how people cooperate in situations when cooperation is opposed to each person’s immediate self-interest, so called Social Dilemmas.
Lieke Peper Associate Professor at Coordination Dynamics
My main research interests reside in the field of movement coordination. Over the years my focus has shifted from the coordination of interceptive actions to the dynamics of rhythmic interlimb coordination, focusing on the underlying control principles and changes therein during development and due to pathology. More recently, I have become interested in the attentional demands of locomotion, especially in elderly populations.
Mariette Huizinga Associate professor at Educational Neuroscience
I am trained as a developmental psychologist, with a focus on experimental (neuro-)psychology. The main focus of my research is on the development of executive functions, between childhood and young-adulthood. Executive functions are brain processes allowing someone to show goal-directed behavior, by flexibly adjusting to the changing circumstances in the environment. In doing so, we are, for example, able to show up on time, suppress outbursts for little reason, plan homework, or come up with alternative solutions. Together with Dr. Diana Smidts, I developed the Dutch adaptation of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) for children between ages 5 and 18. In addition, we co-authored a book on the development of executive function for the general audience: 'Gedrag in uitvoering'. My research interestes include self- and emotion regulation, peer influence, working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibition, complex task performance, strategy application, risk-taking behavior, social development - in relation to school performance
Mieke Donk Associate professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My primary research focus is on visual perception, attention, and eye movements. I use different methods including reaction time measures and eye movements to study attentional and oculomotor selection in simple displays and real-world scenes.
Sander Los Assistant professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My research is focused on temporal cognition. Human beings and other animals have widespread, though largely implicit, knowledge of relevant temporal contingencies in the world (e.g., when a traffic light will turn green after we stopped our car in front of it). How do we learn these temporal contingencies and what is the nature of the memory system where these contingencies are stored? And how does our knowledge of these contingencies find expression in behavior? These are examples of questions I have examined over the past years in collaboration with Erik van der Burg, Martijn Meeter, and Wouter Kruijne. Our approach is to account for robust patterns of behavioral data (usually reaction times) by means of (formal) cognitive modeling.
Tomas Knapen Assistant professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
How does the brain encode and process information for perception, decisions, and actions? My research is focused on answering this question, with a clear emphasis on creating a deeper understanding of the signals we record to gauge the brain’s representations of information. We describe the representation of information using forward/encoding models of visual processing, measuring from ultra-high field fMRI voxels as if they were neurophysiologist’s electrodes. Our goal is to describe computations not in terms of the signals we measure, but the information these signals convey.
Selected Recent Publications:
- Multistable perception and the Role of Frontoparietal Cortex in Perceptual Inference. J Brascamp*, P Sterzer*, R Blake*, T Knapen* Annual Review of Psychology, 2017
- Cognitive and ocular factors jointly determine pupil responses under equiluminance. T Knapen*, J W De Gee*, J Brascamp, S Nuiten, S Hoppenbrouwers, J Theeuwes. PLoS one, 11-5, 2016
- Oculomotor Remapping of Visual Information to Foveal Retinotopic Cortex. T Knapen, J D Swisher, F Tong, P Cavanagh. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 69-1 2016
- Negligible fronto-parietal BOLD activity accompanying unreportable switches in bistable perception. J Brascamp, R Blake, T Knapen. Nature Neuroscience, 18, 1672-1678 2015
Artem Belopolsky Assististant professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
I have always been interested in understanding how visual attention works. I am intrigued by different forces that control the flow of information in the brain and eventually determine the contents of our consciousness and direct our actions. Why do we sometimes miss the obvious things, like the famous “invisible” gorilla? How can radiologist find a tumour on a scan within 200 ms? And what is particularly intriguing: do we possess the “free will” in directing our attention or are we just passive observers? In the last years I realized that visual attention cannot be studied in isolation from other cognitive functions. My research focused on linking visual attention to memory systems (Veni grant), emotional systems (threat and reward) and motor systems (eye movements and visual stability, ORA grant).The accumulated knowledge led to a reformulation of prominent theories of attentional control, visual memory and accounts of stability of visual world during eye movements.
Nienke van Atteveldt Assistant professor at Educational Neuroscience
I am a cognitive neuroscientist who is intrigued by the flexibility of the brain, and wants to narrow the gap between brain research and the (educational) practice. The brain has been my one big fascination ever since my biology studies at Utrecht University. Especially the interaction between how our brain evolved by selective processes, and the plasticity and experience-dependence during a lifetime. For example, our previous work has shown that the speech processing system is transformed by literacy acquisition, but how it is transformed depends on the language in which we learn to read (e.g. Dutch vs. English). Evolutionary forces seem to have enabled our brain to learn an artificial skill as literacy fairly easily, but yet, slightly differently depending on the environment. In other words, pre-shaped as well as plastic. The strong experience-dependency also emphasizes individual differences, which is very relevant for the educational practice. For example, it indicates that implications of neuro-imaging studies are rarely universal, but depend on country, culture, and the individual.
Francesca Righetti Assistant professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My research focuses on close relationships. Specifically, I study how automatic vs. deliberative processes affect relationship dynamics, how people help each other in accomplishing goals and when partners decide to sacrifice their own interest for the relationship. In my work I use different methodologies, such as experience sampling procedures, diary studies, reaction time measures (e.g., implicit evaluation measures) and manipulations of key constructs in a laboratory setting.
Richard Ronay Assistant professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My primary research interest lies in understanding how our psychology, and the biological mechanisms that underlie this psychology, have evolved to determine how we respond “in the heat of the moment” to social triggers. I explore how these evolved mechanisms shape the balance between people’s cooperative versus competitive motivations. To explore these topics, I draw from various disciplines – psychology, biology, sociology, economics – and employ a range of methodologies – hormonal analyses, fMRI, heart rate, SCR, behavioral games, field and laboratory studies.
Michal Kandrik Assistant Professor at Social and Organizational Psychology
My research interests are various levels (cross-cultural, between-subject, within-subject) of systematic variation in people's face perceptions, mate preferences, and social judgments. Further, I am also interested in how do changes in people's hormonal profile relate to their social perceptions and behaviors.
Johannes Fahrenfort Assistant professor at Experimental and Applied Psychology
I am interested in exploring the relationship between cortical processing and conscious vision and to what degree the experience of seeing depends on attention. Particularly, I am interested in tying functional aspects of vision, as for example feature binding and predictive coding, to experiential aspects of vision, such as surface and shape perception in order to determine the relationship between function and experience. Contiguously, I am interested in determining to what degree conscious vision exists without selective attention as modulatory or causal force. Recently, I am expanding these questions into the domain of visual working memory.
Rob van Beers Assistant professor at section Sensorimotor Control
I am interested in many aspects of human motor control and spatial perception. As methods, I use a combination of psychophysical experiments and computational modelling. The modelling often follows a Bayesian approach, taking account of uncertainty and noise in sensory and motor signals.
Fabiola Gerpott Assistant Professor, Social & Organizational Psychology
Our behavior and performance at work is strongly influenced by the social situations we find ourselves in, and by our perceptions of these situations. I am interested in understanding what leaders and followers actually do when interacting in concrete situations, how their behavior relates to outcomes as well as to perceptions of leadership and followership, and why objective and perceived characteristics of situations are not necessarily the same. In my work I draw from a broad range of methods, including verbal and nonverbal interaction coding, experimental studies, eye-tracking, and survey methodology, and I collaborate with scholars from several disciplines.
Raôul Oudejans Associate Professor at section motor learning & performance
Raôul R.D. Oudejans, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the Department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Faculty of Sports and Nutrition, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands. His main research and teaching areas are perceiving and moving in sports and other high-pressure contexts with emphasis on the psychological factors underlying performance. Raôul is specialized in the visual control of basketball shooting and training and performing under pressure.
John Stins Assistant professor at section Coordination Dynamics
I study how cognition, emotion, personality, and psychopathology impact the organization of movement, with an emphasis on regulating postural balance. My main theoretical interest involves the reciprocity between mental states and bodily states, as outlined by the embodied cognition thesis.
Melvyn Roerdink Assistant professor at section Sensorimotor Control
My research focuses on technology in motion for measuring, improving and stimulating human movement. I merge cutting-edge human movement science on topics like walking adaptability, sensorimotor control and coordination dynamics with evolving motion technologies (e.g., Kinect, Hololens) and academic entrepreneurship. I seek to generate knowledge and solutions for and with our students, educators and societal stakeholders, resulting in commercially available applications like the C-Mill, Interactive Walkway and Trapplaus.
Sara Jahfari Postdoc at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My research interests include cognitive control, attention, reinforcement learning (RL), cortico-basal ganglia networks, effective and functional connectivity with fMRI, formal decision-making and RL-models. Reinforced stimuli capture our attention beyond their initial physical salience to optimize interactions with the surrounding environment. Rewarded stimuli receive such persistent priority through attentional capture that they not only contribute to the advance selection of reinforced stimuli, but additionally are shown to interfere with future goals that are incongruent with the reinforced task. In the upcoming years, I will study how reward influences the interaction between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and visual regions to modulate fast attentional capture.”
Wouter Kruijne Postdoc at Experimental and Applied Psychology
The main question driving my research is how long- and short-term memory are organized in the brain and inform us what to expect or to do next, with a particular focus on how memory drives visual attention and performance. Wherever possible, I use computational modeling to gain a better understanding of the functional mechanisms that underlie experimental data. A large part of my work investigates how the brain controls the way short-term memory is used: in my main research project we investigate how the primate brain can learn to store multiple items in working memory, and subsequently use these to plan sequences of actions to solve hierarchical tasks. To this end, we construct neural network models that are trained via reinforcement learning.
Other projects focus on more automatic, implicit effects that recent experience (short-term memory) and regularities (long-term memory) have on performance. We study how these strongly influence our expectations and corresponding behavior in deployments of visual attention and in temporal preparation.
Joram van Driel Postdoc at Experimental and Applied Psychology
My research interest concerns the role of oscillatory brain activity in support of flexible working memory functions. Our group, with Christian Olivers as PI, investigates various neural and cognitive aspects of the "search template", a working memory representation that actively guides visual search. In general, our research is all about the interplay between visual attention and visual working memory. My focus within this topic is on how brain regions work together in, e.g., shifting between different prioritized states within visual working memory and anticipating when a memory representation should turn into a template. The main overarching hypothesis is that attention and memory processes rely heavily on suppression of posterior alpha-band activity, and that a frontoparietal network becomes transiently phase synchronized, reflecting functional connectivity in support of these cognitive functions. The backbone for studying these questions is applying time-frequency decomposition techniques on human EEG data, and using various cutting-edge methods (e.g. MVPA, graph and information theory, eigendecomposition) on both the raw and frequency-specific signals. I developed the methodological expertise of time-frequency analysis of the EEG during my PhD under supervision of Mike X Cohen.
Anouk van Loon Postdoc at Experimental and Applied Psychology
One of the most important features of human vision is that it is selective and dynamic. It flexibly samples the environment on the basis of what is relevant to our current tasks, such as finding a friend in the crowd. This means that the brain maintains some representation of what we are currently looking for, a face. This “picture in your head”, or “template”, remains a huge mystery. I’m intrigued how neural interactions across the visual cortical hierarchy guide our visual perception and how our brain integrates the “picture in our head” with incoming sensory information. I’m using different techniques such as fMRI, EEG and eye tracking to investigate the interplay between attention, perception and working memory. During my PhD, I have also studied the dynamics between bottom-up and top-down visual processes, with the focus on visual awareness. For example, I have used backward masking and different pharmacological manipulations while recording EEG to disentangle feedforward from feedback processes. In another project, I have looked at the role of GABA (by means of MRS and pharmacology) in bistable perception. I have also used Mooney images to see whether object representation, as assessed with MVPA-fMRI, changes with recognition and Ketamine.
Marlieke van Kesteren Postdoc at Educational Neuroscience
Memories shape our lives more than we can ever imagine. They make us who we are. This is why the memory system in our brains is so fascinating to me. My research is strongly influenced by my honest belief that understanding more about how memories get stored in our brains can help us to better remember information that is important to us. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the VU University Amsterdam's department of Educational Neuroscience. My research aims to help students to learn well, people to remember what is valuable to them, and elderly to keep their precious memories for as long as possible!
Tieme Janssen Postdoc at Clinical Neuro and Developmental Psychology
My research covers cognitive neuroscience in healthy and clinical populations (e.g. ADHD) and neuroscience-based interventions (e.g. neurofeedback). For these purposes, I utilize the latest methodological developments in EEG analysis (e.g. source-reconstruction, connectivity analysis). I am motivated to translate neuroscience to applications outside the lab. One of my main interests is to unravel the underlying neural mechanisms of treatment response in well-designed randomized controlled trials. This may benefit further development and optimization of interventions, but can also serve to untangle specific from non-specific effects. Currently, I am working in the educational neuroscience field, investigating the effects of a newly developed growth-mindset intervention for adolescents using neurofeedback. Furthermore, I study neural processes associated with attention, inhibition and error/feedback monitoring.
Eli Brenner Researcher at section Sensorimotor Control
My research in recent years has mainly focussed on how we hit moving targets and how we grasp objects. These questions have led me to investigate various issues regarding strategic decisions (e.g. choosing a movement path), spatial and temporal resolution, the role of expectations and eye movements. Beside related work on visual localisation and motion perception, I also have a continued interest in colour vision and in how various sources of information are combined.
Mariët van Buuren Postdoc at Clinical Developmental Psychology
I am intrigued by social cognition and how the underlying brain mechanisms may contribute to the development of psychopathology. In my research I mainly use functional MRI, to investigate activity as well as connectivity during resting-state and during social cognitive tasks. I currently work as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Lydia Krabbendam at the department of Clinical Developmental Psychology, where we investigate the development of social cognition and social networks in adolescents.