Nearly winning is more rewarding in gambling addicts

Pathological gamblers have a stronger brain reaction to so-called near-miss events: losing events that come very close to a win. Neuroscientists of the Donders Institute at Radboud University show this in fMRI scans of twenty-two pathological gamblers and just as many healthy controls. The scientific journal Neuropsychopharmacology published their results last week.

How can we reduce irrational and risky eating behaviors ?

This is the question that Esther Aarts aims to answer with her research. Focusing on individual differences, she opens the way to tailor-made interventions, like mindful eating, to prevent obesity and associated diseases. Follow Esther on her journey by watching the Youtube video below.

Why can patients with ADHD control their behavior in some but not all circumstances?

Patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be quite impulsive, restless and easily distracted. In short, they often have difficulty controlling their behavior. Diminished behavioural control can result in problems at work or in someone’s social life. Although patients with ADHD often find it hard to focus at work, some can spend hours playing computer games without facing distraction. In other words, patients with ADHD appear able to control their behavior much better when they are doing something enjoyable or rewarding rather than boring.

There’s no ‘I’ in team – but occasionally there is a ‘me’

Leaders and bosses are often seen as independent and self-assured in their decision making, but new research suggests they are more likely to rely on the experiences and ideas of others when making choices.

Jennifer Cook, Hanneke den Ouden, Cecilia Heyes and Roshan Cools examined the ‘social dominance paradox’ and concluded that dominant individuals are more likely to use social learning, (the experiences of others around them), in decision making than subordinate people, who tend to draw primarily on their own experiences.

To get a better grap of these findings, watch the entertaining and informing video below in which social and individual learning is revealed by people building rockets and fMRI scanning.

Breindoping: de kosten en baten


Hersenonderzoeker prof. Roshan Cools van het Radboudumc ontvangt een bedrag van anderhalf miljoen euro van onderzoekorganisatie NWO. Met deze Vici kan ze de komende vijf jaar onderzoek  doen en een eigen onderzoeksgroep opbouwen. De Vici-beurs is een van de grootste persoonsgebonden wetenschappelijke premies van Nederland.

New study points to differences in brain organization between macaque monkeys and humans

This week, our paper “Comparative diffusion tractography of cortico-striatal motor pathways reveals differences between humans and macaques” was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neurophysiology.

This paper compared pathways connecting two cortical motor areas – the frontal eye fields, an area supporting eye movements, and the primary motor cortex, an area supporting limb movements – with the striatum, a structure in the center of the brain, between macaque monkeys and humans. These pathways are thought to be fundamental for the control over eye and limb movements, especially in complex environments and demanding tasks.

Nadat’ of ‘voordat’? Parkinsonpatiënten weten het niet

Voegwoorden van tijd zoals ‘voordat’ en ‘nadat’ geven ons de mogelijkheid om een opeenvolging van gebeurtenissen in verschillende volgorden te beschrijven. We kunnen gebeurtenissen beschrijven in de volgorde waarin ze daadwerkelijk gebeurd zijn, door het woord ‘nadat’ te gebruiken, bijvoorbeeld: ‘Nadat de wetenschapper het artikel indiende, veranderde het wetenschappelijke tijdschrift haar beleid’. We kunnen gebeurtenissen ook in omgekeerde volgorde beschrijven met behulp van ‘voordat’, bijvoorbeeld: ‘Voordat het wetenschappelijke tijdschrift haar beleid veranderde, diende de wetenschapper het artikel in’. Om de zin met ‘voordat’ te begrijpen, moet je in je hoofd de volgorde van de beschrijvingen in de zin omdraaien om de daadwerkelijke opeenvolging van gebeurtenissen te reconstrueren. Voor jou gaat dit misschien moeiteloos, maar het is verrassend moeilijk voor jonge kinderen en mensen met de ziekte van Parkinson of afasie.

The lab on Lucy

Lucy is a new science fiction movie based on the idea that humans only use 10% of our brain capacity. From a neuroscientific point of view this idea is a myth, complete bollocks. But that is not the only theoretical flaw in the movie. As overenthusiastic neuroscientists we tried our best to separate science fiction from facts. This is our lab on Lucy.

Overdosing the Parkinsonian brain

Most people know that patients with Parkinson’s disease are impaired in their movements. But it is less well known that patients also suffer from mental problems: they find it difficult to do multiple things at the same time or to plan ahead for instance. The dopaminergic medication that they take helps them move and think. Unfortunately, in some patients, the same medication can also contribute to worrisome impulsive behavior with respect to reward, such as pathological gambling or compulsive shopping. 

NWO Toptalent beurs voor Jennifer Swart

Onlangs kregen we geweldig nieuws van het NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek): ons onderzoeksvoorstel is geaccepteerd! Sinds augustus 2014 werk ik dan ook als PhD student samen met Hanneke den Ouden en Roshan Cools. We onderzoeken hoe onze keuzes worden beïnvloedt door automatische neigingen die we wel hebben, maar waar we ons niet altijd bewust van zijn.