In October of 2020, I started my new post-doc position at the University of Minnesota, Department of Biomedical Engineering. In the lab of Prof. Alexander Opitz I am working on understanding the complex dynamics of non-invasive brain stimulation on neurophysiology and human behavior. In simple terms, I want to learn how brain stimulation, like TMS, tDCS, and tACS, changes brain activity and how this affects our actions.
Post-doc in visual neuroscience
I previously worked in the lab of Dr. Marius Peelen at the Donders Institute. In two studies I investigated how humans perceive things within their surroundings. Our brain has regions in the brain that process things (objects, animals, humans) and other regions that processes scenes (backgrounds, landscapes). Although separate, these brain regions communicate with each other. Understanding this communication was the main topic I studied during this post doc position.
Phd in decision Neuroscience
I did my PhD with Prof. Dennis Schutter at the Donders Institute. Dennis taught a lot. Skills, but more importantly, a mindset of a researcher. A lot of PhD students talk about how stressful it is. For me it was nothing like that, it was just a fun time!
I focused on how the brain processes our decision and how we learn from them. If a decision leads to a positive outcome we will probably try the same thing. But when after a punishment we tend to try something different. In a series of studies I looked at the electrocortical signals, using EEG, related to learning from feedback. Additionally, I tried to influence brain activity, using TMS, tDCS and tACS, such that participants change their decision making strategy.
I grew up in Kerkrade, in the south of the Netherlands. Although I never really planned for it, I ended up doing a Bachelor in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Maastricht. I stayed there for my Master in Cognitive Neuroscience. For my Master internship I finally left the Netherlands and stayed for about a year at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, USA. Here, I got my first real exposure to TMS, by doing a study on hemispheric motor cortex interactions during movement. I was also involved in a study on using TMS in the rehabilitation of stroke. I was certain that I wanted to continue using brain stimulation. Also, I was certain that I would not want to return to the US for a prolonged period. Given my current position, I have to conclude that this statement from my former me was wrong.