People

Our team consists of the following people

Nienke van Atteveldt


Nienke graduated from Utrecht University in 2000 (MSc in biomedical sciences) and received her PhD (cum laude) in cognitive neuroscience from Maastricht University in 2006. After her PhD she spent a couple of years in New York (Columbia University, Child-Psychiatry) to investigate how the brain adapts its processing to the current context and behavioral goal.  Her interest in how neuroscience interacts with society has also been growing since that time, and particularly, that challenge of how we can optimize the educational value of developmental cognitive neuroscience research. In 2014, she moved to the Vrije Universiteit (VU) where she currently works as full professor and leads the Lab of Learning. She is currently Vice-President of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES), and co-chair of the UNESCO MGIEP International Scientific Evidence-based Education (ISEE) Assessment.


Tieme Janssen


Tieme obtained his Bachelor in psychology and Master in Neuropsychology at Maastricht University. In 2016, he completed his PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and is currently an assistant professor in the Lab of Learning. His research covers cognitive neuroscience in healthy and clinical populations (e.g. ADHD) and neuroscience-based interventions (e.g. neurofeedback). For these purposes, he utilizes the latest methodological developments in advanced EEG analysis (e.g. source-reconstruction, connectivity analysis) and real-time EEG analysis and feedback. He is motivated to translate neuroscience to applications outside the lab. One such example, is a classroom-based growth-mindset intervention in which psychosocial and neurofeedback techniques are combined (click here for details). This study is part of a larger effort to take neuroscience research out of the lab and into working classrooms and other real-life settings, using portable brain technology (click here for details).


Smiddy Nieuwenhuis


Smiddy started her Ph.D. trajectory in May 2017 within the Lab of Learning team. Currently, she is working on a variety of different projects within the group, from an EEG labstudy with children and university students (click here for details) to scanning adolescents while they respond to different types of feedback (fMRI). Before pursuing a higher education Smiddy was a ski-instructor in the beautiful white mountain landscape of Austria. There, a passion for teaching and understanding how children learn was born. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Pedagogical Sciences at the VU University in Amsterdam, she went on to graduate from the master Applied Neuroscience in Human Development at the University of Leiden. Concurrently, she also completed the master Clinical Orthopedagogy at the VU University. During this time she discovered her love for research and happily joined the Lab of Learning team in this pursuit. The overall aims her research are to 1) unravel underlying mechanisms that cause individual differences in motivation and resilience in school; what makes a child a motivated and persistent learner, and 2) unravel the underlying neurobiological processing mechanisms of these individual differences in motivation and persistence.


Sibel Altikulaç


Sibel graduated from Leiden University in 2015 (MSc in Applied Neuroscience of Education and Child Studies) and worked as research assistant for 1,5 years in the Brain and Development Research Centre of Eveline Crone. During this period, she was involved in different research projects examining the development of children, adolescents and adults. She started her PhD in 2017 at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) to investigate the implicit beliefs (mindsets) of adolescents, which neural processes are involved, and how this is related to students’ wellbeing and school achievement, and additionally, she is studying the influence of peers on this relation. Her interest in (brain) development of adolescence intrigues her, as well as how we, as scientists, can properly translate the knowledge that derives from scientific (brain) research to information that is understandable and useful for lay people in daily life.


Ilona Benneker


Ilona graduated in 2008 for her master Science Teacher Education at the University of Utrecht. In that year she also finished her master Clinical Neuropsychology (cum laude) at the University of Amsterdam. She then started teaching Biology at a secondary bilingual and international school in Breda. She noticed that different strategies in her lessons improved the motivation of her students. It was this motivation that interested her. How could for example two classes with the same cognitive level yet have such a different motivational attitude? How do peers influence each other in these classes? She also noticed different strategies for parents to motivate their children. Some parents were focused on their children’s performance and they felt that the performance of their children was completely out of their hands, while other parents supported their children very differently and focused more on learning. In 2018 she received a scholarship from the NWO (The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research) to conduct a PhD research project on the role of peers and parents on ability beliefs of both early and late adolescents.


TuongVan Vu


TuongVan holds a BA in linguistics at National University of Vietnam, a BA in liberal arts and sciences at Utrecht University (2011), a Research Master degree in Psychology (cum laude, 2013) and a PhD degree from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2019). TuongVan’s main research interests are the relations between self-concepts, social cognition, and (social, non-social, and linguistic) learning. During her PhD, she focused on the influences on culture on social cognition. Since April 2019, TuongVan works as a postdoctoral researcher in the Lab of Learning, under the supervision of Nienke van Atteveldt and in collaboration with researchers at the University of Amsterdam and UCLA Berkeley. With the Jacobs Foundation grant, TuongVan along with the group are embarked on a quest for a comprehensive model of the dynamic interaction between emotion, motivation, effort, and performance and its impact on learning.


Martine Ceton


Martine first finished her BSc in Criminology, when she decided to follow a MSc in Public Administration and a MSc in Investigative Criminology. After finishing these studies, she took part in a traineeship in Data Science & Business Analytics where she had the opportunity to develop her coding and data analysis skills. During her career she discovered her passion lays in research, so she applied for a PhD position in the SENSA project and joined the Lab of Learning in february 2021. For the next four years she will be working on the development of EEG paradigms to unravel the neural mechanisms of collaboration and prosocial behaviour amongst adolescents in naturalistic environments. With this research she hopes to further interpret interbrain synchrony and discover the influence of social networks on collaboration and prosocial behavior.

Birgit Bekker


Birgit obtained a Bachelor of Science from University College Maastricht in 2016, where she focused on neuropsychology and philosophy of science. She now combines a master’s in Philosophy of Neuroscience at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and in Brain & Cognition in Society at the University of Amsterdam. In 2019 she started her thesis research on the conceptual and epistemological challenges in understanding learning. She investigates whether and how scientists and teachers differ in their descriptions of learning, by studying definitions and patterns in knowledge-sharing. She thereby aims to gain insight into how knowledge from everyday experience, educational practice and scientific research can effectively be combined and translated. This reflects her fascination for the multidisciplinary study of mind and brain, and for various strands of philosophy, such as philosophy of science, language and education.

Roos de Jong


Roos recently graduated from Leiden University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Research Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology and a Master’s degree in School Psychology. Her interests lie in conducting research on how children learn at school and on best educational practices for children to fulfill their learning potential. During a research internship at Birkbeck, University of London, she studied the effects of a knowledge interference control intervention on the learning of counterintuitive concepts in science and mathematics education. For the completion of her Master’s programme she further wrote a thesis on the effectiveness of the incremental beliefs intervention developed by the Lab of Learning. In April 2021 she joined the lab as a research assistant.

Alumni

Krista Oplaat


Krista (born and raised on Aruba) graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2014 with a bachelor and research master’s in Neurobiology. During her master’s she also completed a specialization in Science Communication at the VU University. Fascinated not only by the inner workings of the mind, but also by the communication of science to the masses she pursued many projects in this interdisciplinary field. Combining her passion for working with children and applied neuroscience she joined the Lab of Learning team as a research assistant in September 2017. She assists the team on many levels, from organizing and implementing the behavioral data-collection at the schools and communicating to the parents, to coordinating and facilitating the fMRI data-collection of the project.

Patricia Dreier Gligoor


Patricia earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and in Pedagogical Sciences, a master’s degree in Criminology (Research Track) and in Pedagogical Sciences and she is still studying for a master’s degree in Clinical Neuropsychology and Public Administration at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her goal is to build bridges across these fields. Her work experience within this project was a fundamental starting point because of the multidisciplinary nature of the project and the wide variety of tasks. In addition, it was really valuable for her to contribute to this meaningful project.

Alex van der Jagt


Alex graduated from Leiden University with a bachelor in Japanese Language of Culture and a master in North American Studies with a focus on World War II literary/cinematographic history. Despite this odd fit background, he had strong interest in IT and automatization. Starting in 2016, he started as coordinator and data manager for several projects (NRO “What helps against bullying” and ERC “Happy children, happy adolescents?”). During 2017, the NRO project came to an end and he started working for Technical Support for Teaching and Research (TO3) to provide more support on the back end of data collection and also started as data manager for the Netherlands Autism Register (NAR). As of February 2019, he joined the Lab of Learning team as a project coordinator and datamanager.