Welcome to my homepage! Picture of me (2022).

I am a scientist studying the human brain and perception.

The human brain holds the key to who we are, our thoughts, memories, and perception of the world around us. With some 100 billion brain-cells connected by several 100 thousand kilometers of wiring, the human brain is one of the most complex objects in the known universe.

My work is twofold. As a scientist, I lead the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging group of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, and am an endowed professor of Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience at the department of Experimental Psychology of Utrecht University, and the department of Experimental and Applied Psychology of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

In addition, I am the director of the Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging. The Spinoza Centre is a core facility and research hub of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University Medical Centra - locations AMC and VUMC. As the director, I enable scientists and clinicians to use the state-of-the-art facilities of the Spinoza Centre, including 7T MRI.

For current updates and discussions, please see my accounts on linkedin and mastodon (I quit twitter).

About me

I grew up in a small village near Eindhoven in the province of North Brabant in the south of the Netherlands. My academic career started at Utrecht University where I obtained my M.Sc. degree (doctorandus) in Biology. Part of my M.Sc. research was conducted at the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre of the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University in Canada. The M.Sc. project evolved into a Ph.D. in Neurology and Neurosurgery, and was followed by a postdoctoral research position in Ophthalmology both at McGill University. I continued westwards to do postdoctoral research at the Psychology department of Stanford University, USA, before I returned to the Netherlands to start my own group.

Studying the brain

Layman summary

For non-scientist summaries about my research, please read the Ammodo laudatory speech or watch the related video below (2015). You can also read an interview in the Journal of Neuroscience & Cognition (2016), or listen to a Dutch podcast about Het brein in beeld [Imaging the brain] (2023).

Academic summary

My research is centered on the intersection of perception, cognition, neuroscience, and computational neuroimaging. The ultimate goals are to understand the neurophysiology of the visual system, and how neural computations result in visual perception and cognition. Vision is the dominant sense in humans. I study the visual system not only to understand vision, but also as a model for how the rest of the brain functions.

Besides fundamental vision questions, I apply the knowledge of the visual system to a variety of clinical disorders, with a specific interest in the plasticity and stability of the visual system. In the last ten years, I both continued to work on the visual system and exported my knowledge of the visual system to cognitive domains, such as attention and numerical cognition.

I use a variety of neuroimaging techniques, in particular fMRI at ultra-high field strengths (7T), as well as computational and behavioural approaches. In addition, I develop new data-analysis methods, for example the pRF method. These methods are unique because of their biologically-inspired perspectives and merge computational neuroscience with neuroimaging. In a Faculty of 1000 review, Hyvarinen recommended my method because it "paves the way for new methods of modelling the response properties of neuronal populations measured by fMRI" (2007). These methods are used in fundamental and clinical research at 100+ academic institutions worldwide and have found applications in many other neuroscience topics and techniques.

My work has received several awards and grants. My research has been funded by many grants, including Dutch Research Council (NWO) Talent Programme Vidi and Vici. I obtained both my degrees at Utrecht University and McGill University with highest distinctions. My work has been highlighted in previews in prestigious journals such as; Neuron, PNAS, Current Biology and Trends in Cognitive Science; recommended or deemed must read by Faculty of 1000 experts in Neuroscience, Ophthalmology and Neurological disorders, and covered in 70+ press and radio reports. My publications received awards in 2013 (Neuroimage Editors' Choice Award), 2014 (Brain Centrum Rudolf Magnus Research Prize) and 2015 (European Vision Research Best Publications). Furthermore, because of my cognitive, clinical and methodological advances, I received the Ammodo KNAW Award in 2015 following a nationwide selection (see video made in Dutch for this occasion by Ammodo).

Last modified: 2024