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Every day, we are faced with a bewildering number and complexity of decisions. So how do we decide what action is best? In our lab, we study how we flexibly adapt to changing environmental demands, and why we so often fail to do so, with 3 aims: (i) Understand the cognitive and computational principles that afford adaptive decision-making, and (ii) How these arise from neural chemistry and circuitry, (iii) Ultimately, achieve individual tailoring of (behavioural and pharmacological) treatment that optimises decision-making in psychiatric disorders.

Some of the questions we are interested in are: What are the cognitive and computational principles that underlie the balancing of affective biases and flexible, goal-directed control? How can we effectively recruit or suppress these affective biases? What is the computational role of neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin in these? How are these processes altered in psychiatric disorders like OCD and depression? Can we predict variability between individuals?


Tools & Techniques

neuroimaging (fMRI,structural);electrophysiology (EEG, intracranial EEG); psychopharmacology (serotonin, dopamine), behavioural genetics (target gene and pathway analyses); computational models of behaviour and neural circuitry (DCM); clinical (pre/post) treatment studies; online behavioural assessments.

Research Interests

reinforcement learning; decision-making; computational psychiatry (mood & anxiety disorders, OCD, addiction); cortico-striatal circuitry; dopamine; serotonin; neural prediction error coding;


If you have questions about our research, are interested in collaborating, or would like to join the lab, please get in touch!


computational psychiatry for medical practitioners (Dutch)

Posted 9/11/2015

Together with Zsuzsika Sjoerds I introduce the budding field of Computational Psychiatry in an article in NeuroPraxis, a Dutch journal discussing the background and applications of neuroscientific research for medical practitioners. Download the article here

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paper accepted in neuroimage

Posted 12/10/2015

A new paper in collaboration with the TNU Zurich was accepted in NeuroimageA hemodynamic model for layered BOLD signals. Heinzle J, Koopmans PJ, den Ouden HEM, Raman SS, Stephan KE (2015)

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paper accepted in cerebral cortex

Posted 25/9/2015

A new paper was accepted in Cerebral Cortex: Dopaminergic modulation of the functional ventrodorsal architecture of the human striatum. Piray P, den Ouden HEM, van der Schaaf ME, Toni I, Cools R. Using bromocriptine and sulpiride in a heroic 2x2 factorial placebo-control design to assess intrastriatal connectivity!

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paper accepted in neuropsychopharmacology

Posted 22/9/2015

A new paper was accepted in Neuropsychopharmacology: How administration of the beta-blocker propranolol prior to extinction can prevent the return of fear. Kroes MCW, Tona KD, den Ouden HEM, Vogel S, van Wingen GA, Fernandez G. Congratulations to Marijn! 

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Reinforcement learning models tutorial online!

Posted 26/8/2015

Want to use learning models to look at your data, but don't know where to start? Our on-line tutorial should give you a nice start.

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Our brain in love - Blog by Annelies van Nuland

Posted 14/2/2015

Annelies van Nuland blogs about what happens in our brains when we are in love. Read more here (in Dutch)

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NWO top talent grant for Jennifer Swart

Posted 25/9/2014

After a year of hard work as a research assistant with us, we received the great news that  Jennifer Swart will be joining us as a PhD student funded by NWO. To introduce you to her work, Jennifer wrote a (Dutch) blog on her research project: How our choices are shaped by automatic tendencies that we are often not even aware of (rest of this entry)


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