People

Principal Investigators
Wouter van den Bos (PI)

I have a broad background in both neuroscience and developmental psychology and my research broadly investigates the relation between the developing brain and changes in behavior. More specifically, my research is focused on how changes in brain function and structure relate to typical and atypical development of learning and decision-making. To approach these questions, I use computational models, social network analyses, and methods form experimental economics. Computational models are used to quantify behavior and the complex processes underlying learning and decision-making. The parameters from these models support spanning the bridge between developmental theories and neurobiology, and enable to identify more specific processes that underlie developmental change. Using these techniques I have investigated the neurocognitive development of risky & intertemporal choice ,  basic learning mechanisms , social decision-making, and social learning{for more info and CV}

Currently I am an Associate Professor at the Developmental Psychology Department of the  University of Amsterdam & Director of the Connected Minds Lab,  Adjunct Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development Center for Adaptive Rationality, and Faculty at the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research

Lucas Molleman (Co-PI)
Lucas studies how people learn from others:  when are people influenced by others, and how do people use information from their social environment to change their behavior? To answer those questions, he uses knowledge from biology, behavioral economics, and psychology. After his PhD in Biology at the University of Groningen in 2014, Lucas started working at the Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics in Nottingham (UK). In 2016 he started at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, and he joined the Connected Minds Lab at the University of Amsterdam in 2018.
 

Postdocs

Lieke Hofmans

I started as a postdoc in the Connected Minds lab in 2021, after completing my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen. I study i) how distinct social environments, e.g. different types of individuals, influence someone’s cognitive performance, decision making processes and learning and ii) how this changes over the course of adolescence. With a background in psychology and neurobiology, I am interested in behavior as well as the underlying neural processes. To answer my research questions, I use computerized tasks, computational modeling and fMRI.

 

PhDs

Ana Pinho (UvA)

I am a PhD candidate in the Connected Minds Lab, and my project will focus on how adolescents search for and select information in a social network, and how neuro-cognitive development might influence information selection and decision making. Prior to my PhD, I completed my MSc in child development where I specialized in developmental psychopathology. During my master, I conducted research on two topics: (1) emotion processing in infancy, and (2) effects of adolescent and child personality on parenting and delinquency. 

Scarlett Slagter (UvA)

Scarlett completed her bachelor in Psychobiology and her Research Master in Developmental Psychology and Psychological Methods at the University of Amsterdam. She is interested in the cognitive and psychosocial development of humans. As a researcher she hopes to identify risk factors for abnormal development, thereby contributing to a healthy development of children. Scarlett started her PhD in February 2019 with Wouter van de Bos’s SOCIAL SMART project.

Damien Fleur (UvA)

Since November 2018 I am a PhD student in an interdisciplinairy project at the Institute of Informatics and the department of Developmental Psychology at the University of Amsterdam.  My research focusses on the development of metacognition (i.e., the knowledge of your own knowledge). I am also interested in how we can improve the metacognition of pupils with technology and how the development of metacognition relates to performance. Technology gives us the chance to give personalized feedback on the study behavior of pupils, a.o. with visualizations.

Andrea Gradassi (UvA)

My background is in Philosophy and Neuroscience, and my broad research interests are in the field of decision making and social learning. I study how information is sampled, shared and used by human agents. In my PhD project, I am looking to investigate how these mechanisms emerge and eventually change during the course of development.

Maud Hensums (Co-Supervisor)

In my work as remedial educationalist and researcher, I am constantly working on the question how young people can develop optimally within their (social) environment. I think about the function of certain behaviour and how this behaviour fits within a social context. Thereby, I think it’s important to keep investigating how we can help young people move forward. In my opnion, the input given by young people is essential and I, therefore, like to work as much together with them as possible. 

Simon Ciranka (MPI Berlin)

In his undergrad, Simon studied the psychology of perception and learning in Gießen and Istanbul. After clinical experience in the Charité university hospitals’ daycare and closed psychiatric unit he obtained his master’s degree in the cognitive affective neuroscience program at the TU Dresden. 
He joined the international Max Planck UCL research school on computational psychiatry and aging research in late 2017 where he pursues his PhD in Berlin while staying strongly affiliated with the connected minds lab. He is interested in how formal modeling of behavior can help advancing developmental research with a special focus on adolescent risk taking in social contexts. He is familiar with hierarchical Bayesian modeling of learning and decision making and adopts methods and computational models from behavioral economics, psychology, and neuroscience in order to better understand the development of adolescent social decision making.
Apart from doing research, he is what others would call a foodie and music enthusiast.

Bianca Westhoff (Co-supervisor)
Federica Nisini (Co-supervisor)

I have a background in Psychology (BSc) and Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc).
Since autumn 2020, I am a PhD candidate in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) in Bonn (Germany), working on the effect of social information on decision-making and its neural correlates. Specifically, I will investigate how these cognitive processes may be impacted by the modern – often heavy – usage of social technologies, from a behavioural and neural point of view. I am also interested in the role that social information has on the attribution of veracity and the spread of online news on social networking sites.

 

Lab Managers

Esra de Groot

After I finished my bachelor in Psychobiology at the University of Amsterdam, I started the Data Science track from the master’s programme in Information Studies. I chose this master because I’m interested in how data, first seeming unstructured, can be used to solve a difficult question. Besides, I’m interested in how human behaviour differs from individual to individual and what the underlying factors are that cause these behavioural individual differences. In the future, I hope to combine my skills obtained during my bachelor in Psychobiology with the skills from my Data Science master’s programme.
Besides my study, I assist in
conducting research as a lab manager at the Connected Minds Lab.

 

RA

Ethan Dampf (MPI)
Mubashir Sultan

I’ve got a general background in (social and cultural) psychology and am now veering towards cognitive science. I’m especially interested in applying computational methods to my research questions. I joined the lab as a master’s student looking into the topics of social influence, group dynamics, and social media. I also help out at the lab in the capacity of a research assistant.

 

Bachelor Students

Juliët Leeuwenkamp (BSc Psychobiology, UvA)

Hi, my name is Juliët and I am a third year Psychobiology student at the UvA. This means that it is time for my bachelor thesis. During the bachelor, I found that I was also very interested in the psychology side of the study and the social brain. For my thesis, I am going to study the influences of social media on the brain in young adults.

Nando Braspenning (BSc Psychobiology, UvA)

During my bachelor’s in Psychobiology I missed the clinical aspect of my study, so I decided to do a pre-master in Clinical Neuropsychology. I am interested in human behavior and how the brain works, but especially in mental illness. Eventually I would like to put my knowledge into practice by becoming a licensed psychologist. To finish my bachelor’s degree I am currently doing my thesis on how peers influence decision making in teenagers under the supervision of Scarlett Slagter.

 

Evaline Bosch (BSc Artificial Intelligence, UvA)

Hi, I am a third year AI student at the UvA. During my bachelor I have had a couple courses involving cognitive psychology and I found these interesting courses. This is partially why I chose to do an interdisciplinary bachelor thesis in psychology and AI. During my thesis I will be investigating metacognition in the brain with Machine learning.

 

Master Students

Quinty Daas (MSc Brain and Cognitive Sciences, UvA)

Throughout my bachelor’s programme in biology at Utrecht University, I developed a real interest in Behavioural Neurobiology. I ended up doing my first master’s internship under supervision of Lieke Hofmans and Wouter van den Bos at the Connected Minds lab. During my internship I will focus on how the social environment (e.g., peers) influences cognition, such as social learning and decision making, and how this changes over the course of development (from child to adolescent). I hope to develop a real interest in certain research topics and particular aspects of the research process.

 

 Alumni (previous position)

Corinna Laube (post doc, PhD)
 Robert Lorenz (post doc)
 Lukas Nagel (RA, MA student)
 David Schultner (MA student, Maastricht)
Jungsun Yoo (MA student at FU)
 Anna Dania Esch (MA student, FU Berlin)
 Julian Kosciessa (MA student, MPI)
Jesse Niebaum (PhD, visiting from UC Davis)
Ricki de Koning (BSc student at UvA)
Kavita Basant (BSc student at UvA)
Esra de Groot (BSc student at UvA)
Yvette Wedeven (MSc student at UvA)
Stefanie Barnas (BSc student at UvA)
Bregtje van Elven (BSc student at UvA)
Una Jongenelis (BSc student at UvA)
Vera Verhoef (BSc student at UvA)
Marline Scheurwater (BSc student at UvA)
Doushica Bors (BSc student at UvA)
Rosalie Rose-Polder (BSc student at UvA)
Juliëtte Zwaard (BSc student at UvA)
Marina Picó Cabiró (MSc student at UvA)
Mubashir Sultan (MSc student at UvA)
Sjanne van der Stappen (Lab manager)
Job Schepens (with Hauke Heekeren) (external postdoc)
Lucia Magis-Weinberg   (with Ron Dahl & Ahna Suhleiman) (external postdoc)
Susan van den Boogaard (Lab manager)
Sanne Rozendal (BSc student at UvA)
Maaike Walthaus (BSc student at UvA)
Marlou Roelen (BSc student at UvA)
Demi van der Helm (MSc student at UvA)