An overview of all the current student projects.
We are currently looking for several motivated students with a physics, biomedical technology, neuroscience or comparable background for MSc projects or internships. A wide range of possible projects exists, from functional MRI method development or magnetic resonance spectroscopy to cognitive neuroscience.
Imaging visual processing
Visual information that enters our eyes is immediately relayed to the brain. From there on, it is processed extensively, ultimately resulting in the experience we have of the world around us. While we are learning more and more about these processes every day, there still are many questions that remain open.
With functional MRI (fMRI), it is possible to look at the local brain responses in response to a task. It is thus ideally suited for investigating visual processing in the human brain. Our lab uses fMRI and psychophysics to increase our understanding of the visual system. We mainly use methods based on the population receptive field (pRF) method (Dumoulin & Wandell, 2008). With this method, it is possible to estimate the response preferences of a group of neurons. Interns with an interest in computation neuroimaging are encouraged to apply.
Students with a background in (cognitive) neuroscience, psychology, AI, or similar may apply. Programming experience (MATLAB, Python) is desirable.
MR-Methods: improving image acquisition at 7T.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a very versatile medical imaging modality. The contrast in the images can reflect anything from the distribution of myelin to local brain responses to a task. To optimally benefit from the strength of the 7T system, many components need to be optimized: the hardware components, acquisition strategies and analysis pipelines. Our lab works on all these and has often spaces for interns interested in any of these aspects. Students with a background in physics, biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, AI or life sciences may apply.
Pharmacological MRI and MRS: a proof-of-concept study
Pharmacological MRI (phMRI) is a powerful technique to investigate effects of psychotropic medication on the brain. However, drug-induced changes in systemic or cerebral vasculature can hamper the interpretation of phMRI data. Currently, we are exploring additional techniques, including magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to obtain more direct measures of neuronal metabolism. In this project, we conduct a double-dose study with ketamine in healthy volunteers to test the potential of this novel approach.
Minimum duration: 5 months
Functional imaging of the human cerebellum
The cerebellum is a relatively small brain region, which is nonetheless involved in a very wide range of tasks. Only high-resolution fMRI can spatially separate functional regions that are very close together, such as those representing the individual digits. In this series of projects, we will study cerebellar BOLD responses to one of several motor or sensation related functions. These projects will suit students with a cognitive neuroscience (or similar) background. Programming experience in Matlab or Python is highly recommended.
Line-scanning, super high resolution in-vivo
With line-scanning functional MRI acquisitions, we can achieve very high spatial and temporal resolution at the cost of coverage. Within this larger project, several subprojects suitable for internships exist. Such projects can entail sequence optimisation, data reconstruction or cognitive neuroscientific questions that require high spatiotemporal resolution. We also plan patient studies in the coming years, observing changes in functional profiles within the cerebral cortex.
These projects will suit students with a biomedical engineering or cognitive neuroscience background, depending on the specific subproject chosen. Programming experience in Matlab or Python is highly recommended.
Note that the Spinoza Centre staff has no projects available in the area of clinical neuroscience, for opportunities in this field you might try to contact a relevant affiliated researcher. Additionally, all projects are unremunerated and only open to students currently enrolled in a degree at any university abroad or in the Netherlands.