Arnout Boot, student Brain and Cognition

This study programme provided me with an understanding of what it means to be a human being, including all our perfections and imperfections.
Arnout Boot

As a Master’s student in Brain and Cognition I learned about the biological fundament of the mind, the cognitive processes involved in language usage and how we mentally represent and categorize our environment. In short, this study programme provided me with an understanding of what it means to be a human being, including all our perfections and imperfections.

I chose Brain and Cognition because this field of research is most exciting to me. The domain of human cognition is largely an undervalued / area of research, it contains some mystery. I describe myself as a thinker and like to immerse myself in the process of finding solutions. The study programme focuses on the scientific background of theoretical concepts. This means: how do researchers obtain their results?

Instead of passively absorbing knowledge, I was encouraged to be critical and think of possibilities to find the right answers.

The study programme provided me with the great opportunity to choose my own research thesis topic. As I am a music enthusiast and musician, I wanted to know more about the cognitive processes and underlying biological principles that are connected to with music processing. I asked Jan van Strien, Professor in Biological and Cognitive Psychology, to be my supervisor. My research focused on the electrophysiological response of the brain to unexpected musical events in familiar music. I devised an EEG experiment: subjects listened to familiar music fragments that were slightly manipulated while their brain activity was being recorded. Some chords in the music fragments were somewhat altered in pitch. Interestingly enough, these manipulations were associated with very distinct brain responses. 

Currently, I hold a position as PhD Candidate on a project about cognitive and linguistic aspects of social media usage. For me personally, the Master’s programme Brain and Cognition has turned out to be a great choice, it has provided me with a strong fundament to start a scientific career.