Bio: M.D. and Doctorate, Charitè, Humboldt-University of Berlin (2003). Postdoctoral fellow, Dept of Neurophysiology, Hamburg and Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, Donders Institute, Nijmegen (2003-6). Postdoctoral fellow, Computational Neuroimaging Lab, New York University (2006-9). Assistant Professor (U.D.), Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam (2009-15). Associated P.I., Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin (since 2011), Associated P.I., Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam (since 2015), Professor of Integrative Neuroscience (W3), Dept of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg (since 2015).
My research focus is in the domains of perception, memory and phenomenal experience. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how the brain actively constructs experience based on both external and internal variables. My previous research investigated the neural basis of individual differences in perception and memory, including synesthesia, and whether aberrant perceptual experiences can be acquired by training. I studied mathematics and philosophy at Tulane University (New Orleans, USA), and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Work experience includes microwave engineering and physical chemistry (USA). Currently, I am investigating the role of neuromodulatory processes in human perceptual decision-making using 3T and 7T MRI field strengths. This research is part of the Human Brain Project.
My research has mostly focused on exploring ways in which human cognition is influenced by the brain’s arousal systems, with a particular emphasis on the neural computations that support decision making. I am also interested in the mechanisms and brain processes that facilitate error detection and other metacognitive functions. I have variously combined behavioural experimentation, computational modelling, scalp electrophysiology, pupillometry, psychopharmacology and functional neuroimaging techniques to investigate these questions. With Tobias’ group, I will focus mainly on examining candidate mechanisms for the adaptation of decision making timescale in the brain.
I studied Psychology and received my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Trinity College Dublin, and spent my first postdoc at Leiden University with Prof. Sander Nieuwenhuis.
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I’m a cognitive scientist interested in how our brains and bodies can possibly enable subjective conscious experience. In reality I study a very small subset of cognitive phenomena and how these are implemented in the brain. At the moment I work on furthering our understanding of decision making and, in particular, on confidence judgements. Other projects that I work (or worked) on include eye-moments and selection strategies, grid cells and their relation to attention. I use a large variety of methods, including computational modeling, eye-tracking, fMRI, MEG, electrophysiological recordings in monkeys and pure psychophysics. I’ve studied cognitive science at the University of Osnabrück and completed my PhD under supervision of Peter König (U. Osnabrück) and Elizabeth Buffalo (U. Washington, Seattle) in Osnabrück, Seattle and Atlanta.
I aim to understand why people violate normative principles when making decisions. I approach this problem by asking how humans attend to, sample and accumulate noisy information over time; and how exactly these processes are amenable to non-normative influences and top-down factors. I use time-controlled experiments (dubbed “value psychophysics”) –that disguise complex choice scenarios into simple psychophysical tasks–, pupilometry, neuroimaging, and computational modelling of the dynamical processes that underlie decisions.
While in Hamburg I will explore the brain mechanisms (from the level of neurotransmitters to large-scale brain networks) that mediate violations of rational choice theory, focusing on the interplay between decision and attentional process. Towards this aim, I plan to exploit the fine temporal resolution of MEG in conjunction with pharmacological manipulation and biophysical modelling.
After completing a BSc degree in Computer Science (Athens), I pursued an MSc in Cognitive Science (Neuroinformatics & Machine Learning) in Edinburgh, an MRes in Psychology (Birkbeck, London) and a PhD in Cognitive Science (UCL; under the joint supervision of Prof. Nick Chater and Prof. Marius Usher). Prior to joining UKE on a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, I completed 3 years of postdoctoral training at the University of Oxford (Department of Experimental Psychology with Chris Summerfield) and a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship at Birkbeck.
In my research, I focus on the question how metacognition is used for further adaptation of behavior. Currently, I examine how subjective confidence in a decision is used to further optimize cognition. Theoretical models of confidence posit an important role for confidence in learning and adapting behavior, and these are the dynamics that I wish to unravel. I will combine behavioral measures, computational modelling, and electrophysiological recordings to answer these questions. In previous work performed during my PhD at the Free University Brussels (Belgium), I used behavioral and electrophysiological measures to unravel the intimate relation between metacognition and conflict processing. My research is supported by an FWO [PEGASUS]² Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship.
In my research, I try to characterize the key factors underlying the generation of the spatiotemporal patterns of intrinsic cortical activity. More specifically, I am interested in how interactions between cortical regions are set up, maintained and modulated over time. Of particular interest is what role subcortical neuromodulatory systems play in shaping these large-scale cortical dynamics. Ultimately, I am trying to better understand the relation between intrinsic and task-related fluctuations.
Prior to the PhD, I was enrolled in several study programmes (media design, psychology, mathematics, brain and cognitive sciences, fine arts) and I have managed to graduate from two.
The general focus of my research has been the influence of neuromodulatory systems on human brain state and associated cognitive processes. In particular, I have used pharmacological intervention, fMRI, pupillometry, and EEG to study the influence of the locus coeruleus norepinephrine system on brain-wide functional interactions and attention. I have also worked on studying the neural mechanisms of non-adaptive post-error behavioral changes in relation to attentional reorienting, and the anatomical substrate of multisensory processing. The work with Tobias will focus on fast-acting and transient neural mechanisms that underlie cognitive switches.
I studied Brain and Cognitive Sciences in Amsterdam, and received my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Leiden University, the Netherlands, where I worked under the supervisor of Prof. Sander Niewenhuis.