Both Professor Maarten Kole and Professor Birte Forstmann have been awarded a Vici-grant of €1,500,000 each by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The funding will enable the scientists to develop their own innovative research line for the next five years. The vici-grants are one of the largest individual scientific grants in the Netherlands.
Speed of thought at nanoscale
Billions of nerve cells store and exchange information in the form of binary electrical impulses in space and time along thin cytoplasmic processes called axons. To achieve a low-cost but high-speed information processing circuit, most axons are ensheathed with membrane layers called myelin. The Kole group will examine at a nanoscopic level whether myelin acts like a coaxial cable in that it makes signals travel more quickly. Furthermore, how does myelin’s acceleration of impulses facilitate speed and precision and reduce energy consumption? The results will deliver new fundamental insights into information processing and how demyelination diseases, such as occurs in MS, may cause cognitive impairments.
A model-based cognitive neuroscience approach to the human subcortex
The human subcortex can be considered terra incognita: only 7% of the structures are available in standard-MRI atlases. Birte Forstmann and her group will be investigating how cognitive, limbic, and motor processes are implemented in the human subcortex. The aim is to find subcortical nodes that could become new target regions for deep-brain stimulation.
The Vici grant is one of the three types of grant in the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. The other two are the Veni grant and the Vidi grant. The Vici grant is intended for highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative line of research and can act as a coach for young researchers.