Principal Investigator


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).

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Post-Doctoral Researchers


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.

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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.

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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.

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Tom Pfeffer

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.

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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.

PhD Students


The aim of my PhD project is to reveal the neurobiological processes underlying sequential effects in perceptual decision-making in order to understand how preceding choices and preceding stimulus presentations influence our current decision. I use behavioural and neurophysiological data analysis in combination with computational modelling and pupillometry.
I studied physics with a focus on theoretical physics at the University of Hamburg.


My research interest is to investigate the neurobiological basis and computational principles underlying various cognitive processes in humans. I am especially interested in decision-making and metacognition. I am also interested in how brain circuits responsible for different cognitive processes are affected in neurological disorders. To this end, I combine computational modelling with psychophysics, magnetoencephalography and pupillometry. For my PhD, I am investigating the neurobiological basis of sequential effects in decision making.

I obtained Bachelor of Technology in Electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (2012) and MSc in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh (2013). For my Master’s thesis I investigated the impact of different growth environments on the development of the primary visual cortex using developmental models of visual cortex under the supervision of James Bednar.

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My PhD track is centred around the question how global neuromodulatory signals shape cognitive processes unfolding in cortex, such as decisions. I am testing specific theoretical predictions with an integrative approach that combines behavioural analysis, pupillometry, human electrophysiology, human neuroimaging, pharmacological intervention, and computational modelling, all focusing on a common behavioural task.
I completed a BSc in Psychology (specialisation Brain and Cognition; Honours programme), and the research Master Psychology (specialisation Brain and Cognition and Psychological Methods), both at the University of Amsterdam.

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My main research interest is to understand how perception and behavior comes about from previous experience, internal processes and sensory input. My PhD research focusses on the effect of surprise on our perception and decisions, and the role of central neuromodulation in this process. I study both perceptual and value based decisions in uncertain environments, using a combination of human electrophysiology, pupillometry, computational modelling and pharmacological interventions.
I studied psychobiology and a bit of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, followed by a master in cognitive neuroscience at the same university.


My research investigates how our brains transform sensory information into useful decisions, and how such decisions can be improved with training or under pharmacological manipulation. I am also interested in the behavioural effects and neural bases of uncertainty during decision-making, and in the way decisions are shaped by our previous choices. In my research, I use psychophysics and computational modelling of behavioural data in combination with pupillometry, magnetoencephalography and pharmalogical interventions.
I studied cognitive neuroscience and philosophy at University College Utrecht. I then completed my MSc at University College London, where I worked on the effect of ongoing oscillatory brain activity on perception in the lab of Geraint Rees, and at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where I investigated the hierchical nature of conscious perception with Catherine Tallon-Baudry.

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Research Assistants


I am a second year master student doing my internship in the lab together with Thomas Meindertsma. My project is about understanding the dynamic neural processing unfolding during decision formation, specifically looking at the influence of uncertainty and surprise. I make use of a combination of research techniques including pupillometry, MEG, pharmacological intervention and computational modelling.
I completed my bachelor degree in cognitive science at Umeå University in Sweden. I then started my masters of brain and cognitive sciences (track: cognitive neuroscience) at the University of Amsterdam to pursue my interests in the fields of neuroscience.


I am a second year master student studying systematic musicology and I work in the lab as a research assistant. 2015 I graduated from Humboldt University in Berlin with a BA in musicology and culture studies. During my studies I developed a strong interest in the cognitive neuroscience of music as I want to understand how music is perceived and what happens in the brain when you listen to music or even how music can influence people´s decisions. My main research interest is the usage of music in clinical medicine and the role of it in stroke rehabilitation.


I am a second year student of M.Sc. Cognitive Science at TU Kaiserslautern. I studied systems engineering and informatics at the National University in Colombia, and now I pursue a path of research in cognitive and computational neuroscience. I am working as a Research Assistant in the lab together with Peter Murphy, on a project to assess the effect of surprising information on protracted decision making. This project will combine behavioural analysis, computational modelling, MEG, pupillometry, and pharmacology.