Postdoctoral Research Project:
The SMART MOVES! project is a joint venture of academic institutions and public health organizations in the Netherlands aimed at designing and implementing an effective and feasible evidence – based physical activity intervention program that will help improve academic and cognitive performance in children and adolescents. This is a multi-partner project involving the participation of the VU Medical Center Amsterdam, the VU University of Amsterdam, the Open University in Heerlen, the Mulier Institute, the NISB, the municipalities of Delft and Rotterdam and many others.
The project consists of an experimental phase and an implementation phase. In the experimental phase, our team of researchers has conducted several experimental and clinical trials to establish which type, duration and frequency of physical activity is best suited to improve performance in children. Furthermore, a qualitative study was conducted to assess the feasibility aspect, by interviewing education professionals as well as children. The findings from the quantitative and qualitative studies were combined to design an evidence-based physical activity intervention which is currently being tested in 500 elementary school children. In addition, our research group is assessing the effects of an intensive one-year long intervention in a secondary school setting. In the implementation phase, these interventions will be evaluated in terms of their integrity and feasibility.
PhD Research Project:
Challenging the aging brain: presence and limitations of cognitive flexibility
Working memory shows a downwards decline during aging. However, this decline is not a defining feature of all elderly. In fact, while some older adults show lower performance during working memory tasks (low performers), others achieve comparable performance to their younger counterparts (high performers). Though the differences between younger and older adults have been highly addressed, little is known over the underlying processes resulting in differences in cognitive functioning among older adults.
The main focus of our research group is to elucidate the underlying brain processes that are responsible for differences in task performance between high and low performing elderly. In order to do this we use different techniques, such as EEG and combined EEG with fMRI. The cognitive measures in combination with the behavioral and brain imaging data may be helpful in creating specific interventions or training programs aimed at helping low performing elderly.
My PhD research is done in close collaboration with Linda Geerligs and under the supervision of Prof. Ir. Natasha M. Maurits (Clinical Neuroengineering) and Dr. Monicque M. Lorist (Experimental Psychology).