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Pieter Roelfsema

Two ´Dutch National Research Agenda projects´ started

The board of the KNAW gives a total of 1.3 million euros to five KNAW institutes for research projects that correspond to routes of the Dutch National Research Agenda, two of which are projects of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. One of the awarded projects is brain researcher Pieter Roelfsema´s ‘The influence of attention and reward on learning in the human brain’. The other project is `sleep professor´ Eus van Someren´s ‘The role of early life and current sleeping problems to brain structural and functional features that predispose to forensic behavior’.

THE INFLUENCE OF ATTENTION AND REWARD ON LEARNING IN THE HUMAN BRAIN

Pieter Roelfsema and his group, plus researchers from the Spinoza Centre, will be investigating how attention and reward influence learning processes in our brain. They will use, among other things, functional MRI to find out how learning changes the activity of various parts of the brain. They will also use brain electrodes to examine, in patients with epilepsy, how the process of learning affects the learning activity of individual nerve cells.

THE ROLE OF EARLY LIFE AND CURRENT SLEEPING PROBLEMS TO BRAIN STRUCTURAL AND FUNCTIONAL FEATURES THAT PREDISPOSE TO FORENSIC BEHAVIOR

Eus van Someren‘s group will study whether children with structurally disturbed sleep develop antisocial behavior. For this project the researchers will use, among other things, the questionnaires and MRI scans they have been collecting over the past years of thousands of children from Rotterdam, now 14 years old. They will also look at the scans made of 354 children who had been arrested before the age of 12, and who are therefore at risk.

FITTING IN WITH DUTCH NATIONAL RESEARCH AGENDA-ROUTES

Both projects fit in with the NWA-route ‘NeurolabNL: The workshop for research of brain, cognition and behavior.’ NeuroLabNL paves the way for scientific breakthroughs and is the pre-eminent workshop to bring together all Dutch brain, cognition and behavior researchers and their societal partners.

NWA-STARTIMPULS FOR KNAW-INSTITUTES

In its Strategic Agenda 2016-2020: Science and Scholarship connect, the KNAW says that they wish for stronger ties between its research institutes and between the institutes and society. The KNAW has therefore made 1.3 million euros available for KNAW-initiatives that fit in with one of the 8 routes of the Dutch National Research Agenda, for which the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has made funds available. This impulse may be the start of new collaboration projects between science and practice.

Read more about the other projects on the KNAW website (in Dutch).

 

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Pieter Roelfsema

Roelfsema Group

The Vision and Cognition group is led by Dr. Pieter Roelfsema, also director of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. Research of this group is directed at understanding cortical mechanisms of visual perception, memory and plasticity. One of our goals is to create a visual cortical prosthesis to restore vision in blind people.

 

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Van Someren Group

Against the background of their 24-hour rhythm, driven by the circadian clock of the brain, sleep and wakefulness show a mutual dependency. The Sleep & Cognition group investigates how sleep affects brain function during subsequent wakefulness, and how experiences during wakefulness affect subsequent sleep. We aim firstly to elucidate factors that promote and disturb sleep at the systems level, notably insomnia, and secondly to investigate the brain mechanisms involved in the favorable and disruptive effects on cognition of, respectively, sleep and sleep disturbances. We think it’s important to translate fundamental insights into applications to improve sleep, vigilance and daytime function.

Human research tools include, in addition to the standard sleep-lab, brain imaging (high-density-EEG, MEG, fMRI on 1.5, 3 and soon 7 Tesla), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), eye-tracking, computerized induction and assessment of task performance. The sleep-lab has a unique setup for comfortable skin temperature clamping in humans. An arsenal of ambulatory monitoring equipment is available. A web-based assessment tool for extensive insomnia and good sleep phenotyping has resulted in a growing database of, at present, 13000 people. The tool is available for other researchers that want to cooperate.

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