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Pieter Roelfsema

Two PhD students receive the Brain Award

On December 2 the PhD Brain Award was given to two PhD students of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience to celebrate their achievements.

Brain Award for Collaborative Excellence

rbroersenRobin Broersen has won this years’ PhD Brain Award for Collaborative Excellence. Robin and his colleagues show an impairment in predictive motor timing and temporal interval learning in patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 6. The paper was published in PLoS one. The award celebrates Robin’s unique ability to synergize three groups at the NIN, including the De Zeeuw, van der Werf and Gazzola group, to enable a study that would not have been impossible for either of the groups alone.

Brain Award for Scientific Excellence

jeurissenThe PhD Brain Award for scientific excellence was given to Danique Jeurissen. She received the award for her paper ‘Serial grouping of 2D-image regions with object-based attention in humans’ which was published in Elife. The award celebrates Danique’s unique ability to build a bridge from neurophysiology to perception and attention using computational modelling.

They both received a sculpture and a cash award.

 

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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.

 

Publications by year

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De Zeeuw Group

The group of Chris De Zeeuw focuses on the role of the cerebellum in sensorimotor integration and cognition. We aim to understand how cerebellar processing contributes to motor learning of both relatively simple reflex tasks and complex preparatory tasks.

 

Chris de Zeeuw at Brainy Days in Jerusalem – ELSC

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Gazzola Group

When we see a little girl falling from her bike, why do most of us instinctively run to help and comfort her?

Years of research show that one of the reasons why we help other people is because their suffering activates brain regions that are also active when we ourselves are hurt. The pain of the child with her bleeding knee becomes our own pain. Helping the girl now becomes a way to sooth what is now our pain. A similar contagion happens for other emotions as well: we rejoice with our friend when we watch her crossing the finish line of her first marathon.
In some circumstances the decision to help is less readily made, but requires a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the action we decide to take. For instance, if you are late for an important job interview, and you see the mother also running toward the child, you might decide to keep on going instead. This is because you have quickly calculated the benefits for the other against the costs for yourself, and found that the costs of helping (high probability of not getting the coveted new job) in this case are higher than the benefits to the other (comforting a child you do not know while her mom will soon arrive).

Some of the core questions my lab currently investigates are: What areas of the brain cause us to act prosocially? How does the brain weigh the benefits to self and the cost to others? How do we learn the consequences our actions have on others? When we hit someone he will likely be in pain. How does this make us learn that hitting people is bad? Why do psychopathic individuals fail to acquire these moral sentiments? Does the activation of our own pain brain regions while witnessing the other wince in pain play a critical role in that learning?

In order to answer these questions, we synergize brain imaging tools such as 3T and 7T fMRI and EEG, and neuro-modulation tools, such as TMS and tDCS.

 

 

Social Brain Lab

Befitting our interest in social cognition, my lab and that of Christian Keysers create a joint, strongly collaborative cluster of expertise on the neural basis of social cognition that we call the Social Brain Lab.

STUDENT PROJECTS

If you are interested in applying for an internship in the Social Brain Lab please follow the instructions in this document. This also applies to literature thesis projects.

Funding

The Gazzola lab is generously financed by the Dutch Science Foundation’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (VIDI), the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología of Mexico.

 

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