Biologische en Cognitieve Psychologie

Biological and Cognitive Psychology

Principal investigators: Prof. dr. Rolf Zwaan,  Prof. dr. Jan van Strien and dr. René Zeelenberg

The research group Biological and Cognitive Psychology investigates psychological functions such as attention, perception, memory, language, emotion, and knowledge representation and the underlying brain mechanisms. This research is done employing both psychofysiological techniques such as EEG (and in the future: TMS and transcranial Doppler), skin conductance, and heart rate measurement and behavioral techniques such as reaction time measurement and neuropsychological testing. The biopsychological research projects examine the functional brain organization of cognition and emotion and the influence of aging.

Research questions concern the patterns of cerebral activation in response to cognitive and emotional stimuli, and the connectivity within and between cerebral hemispheres. In addition, the changes in connectivity and in cerebral activation with aging are studied. The cognitive research projects address the question how knowledge is represented in human memory and how this knowledge is activated. An important theme is the embodied cognition framework. This framework states that cognitive processes, such as memory, are based on the systems of perception and action, and not on abstract symbolic manipulation, as is proposed by more traditional cognitive theories (this project is supported by a Vidi-grant awarded to Diane Pecher).

Carol Madden (who was recently awarded an EUR fellowship) investigates language processing, in particular sentence comprehension, from an embodied cognition perspective. Eye movements have been studied extensively in language research and provide valuable insights in the mechanisms underlying reading and sentence comprehension. The availability of eye tracking research would strengthen this line of research. Other topics include visual word recognition, false memories and implicit memory.

The biopsychological and cognitive approach are integrated in several EEG studies concerning memory and language. In the near future, more researchers will be included in the B&C research group. As a consequence, the need for more technical apparatus such as EEG is continuously growing. There is also an increasing demand for space and equipment to run subjects in behavioural studies.