How do we remember yesterday’s events? How do we choose and order the words to describe these events? When does a given visual stimulus reach awareness and which dynamic changes in neural circuitries underlie the ‘awareness sensation’? How does an angry face attract or avert our attention and which brain/ hormonal mechanisms lead to marked differences between groups of individuals in this?
Such questions are the core of the Cognitive neuroscience track. Students in this track study the cognitive functions of the brain, by designing clever behavioural experiments and combining this with a variety of brain related techniques, such as fMRI, EEG, TMS, and patient lesion methodology. The research is embedded in internationally renowned institutes such as the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics, where psycho- and neurolinguistic, formal language modeling and syntax/semantics studies are carried out, and the Helmholtz Institute, with its strong focus on perception, attention and emotion, memory and psychophysical and neuropsychological methodologies.
Dr. Stefan van der Stigchel
There are plenty Utrecht internship possibilities available for cognitive neuroscience students. A strong theme in the Experimental Psychology department is perception, both at an elementary level and at a higher conscious level, in particular in the visual domain. There are also many research projects focusing on somatosensory processing and the interaction between the visual, somatosensory and auditory senses. Other strong research themes include spatial cognition, attention and emotion, and memory. Excellent TMS, EEG and eye movement tracking facilities are available as well as fMRI facilities in collaboration with the Utrecht Medical Center. Internships can involve various patient groups, such as neurological patients (e.g. stroke and dementia) and other clinical groups (e.g. ADHD, blind individuals, anorexia nervosa).
The Utrecht Institute of Linguistics offers various internship possibilities focusing on formal and computational modeling of language processing. Alternatively, studies may concentrate on language in the brain, for example by examining aphasic patients, dyslexia, and cerebellar patients.
Other Utrecht groups also offer possibilities for cognitive neuroscience students to receive excellent training, including biology and physics departments (e.g., haptic and visual psychophysics) and neuroimaging groups in the Utrecht Medical Center (e.g., psychiatry), which for example look at cognition and hallucinations in schizophrenics, trace the neural basis of the eye-movement control system, or develop new tools for brain-computer interfacing.