People

Team

Gilles Pourtois

Gilles Pourtois

PI
Research interest: My research primarily focuses on interaction effects between mood and cognition, as explored using standard and advanced EEG methods. (i) A main research line pertains to early vision in human and how attention operates when affective, motivational or emotional variables are considered. At the EEG/ERP level, we explore changes of the retinotopic C1 component (thought to be generated in V1) as a function of learning, attention, motivation or emotion. Our results show that this early striate ERP component shows systematic amplitude variations depending on the current affective state of the participant. We suggest that emotion and mood likely trigger specific attention gating effects during early sensory processing that cannot be subsumed to the classical dichotomy between bottom-up and top-down attention processes, but instead, they likely provide another source of "attention control". (ii) Another main research program seeks to explore performance monitoring and more specifically how are (self-generated) actions timely monitored and how do they acquire specific affective values enabling to color or tag response errors as negative or aversive events for example. To this aim, we capitalize on response-locked or feedback-locked EEG responses (such as the error-related negativity - ERN or feedback-related negativity - FRN). Our results suggest that performance monitoring is liable to dynamic changes in the mood state of the participant. This in turn allows to assign specific values to actions in a rather flexible way (taking into account the situational and dispositional demands) and this way foster goal adaptive behavior.
Valentina Rossi

Valentina Rossi

Postdoc
Research interest: My current research interests concern several factors that can influence early visual processing (as indexed by the C1 ERP component, for example) and the deployment of attentional resources towards visual cortex more in general. My main line of research involve state factors, such as current emotion and affect (I mostly work on negative affect and anxiety, but I am interested in positive affect too). Additionally, I am interested in the role of motivation on vision (for example how reward or punishment expectancy can bias visual processing). Last, I also have a more general interest in how voluntary and involuntary attention shape vision (for example how competing task load or attentional capture by visual cues and instructions influence the early stages of sensory processing).
Antonio Schettino

Antonio Schettino

Postdoc
Research interest: I obtained my MSc in Experimental Psychology in 2007 at the University of Milan-Bicocca with a thesis on the comprehension of idiomatic expressions in schizophrenic patients. During my PhD at Ghent University (2008-2012) I used ERP, spatiotemporal, and source localization analysis techniques to investigate the influence of emotional factors on reactive (bottom-up) vs. proactive (top-down) perceptual processes leading to visual object and scene recognition. I spent the following ~3 years as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Leipzig, where I used steady-state visual evoked potentials (ssVEPs) to investigate if and how the brain can reliably extract semantic regularities (i.e., emotional content) from a rapid presentation of complex visual stimuli. Since October 2015 I am the recipient of a postdoctoral grant at Ghent University. In my current project I seek to better understand how negative affect shapes our expectations of the world by attributing a threatening connotation to visually ambiguous stimuli.
Wioleta Walentowska

Wioleta Walentowska

Postdoc
Research interest: I completed psychology studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Poland). Afterwards, in 2012 I obtained a PhD diploma in social sciences from Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands). Since 2014, I am staying at Ghent University as a post-doctoral researcher (funded by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, and the National Science Centre of Poland). My scientific interests are focused on affective & motivational neuroscience. In the lab I use EEG & ERPs to track fast changes in the human brain activity during action monitoring, and more specifically, feedback processing. I am also interested in various aspects of facial affect processing.
Luyan Ji

Luyan Ji

PhD student
Research interest: I started my PhD study with Gilles Pourtois since October 2014. I received grant from China Scholarship Council (CSC) and a co-funding (BOF) from Ghent University. I’m interested in using psychophysics and EEG to explore how individuals perceive emotion from multiple facial expressions. The current project is about the capacity (un)limitation of ensemble emotion perception and the role of attention in extracting mean emotion.
Katharina Paul

Katharina Paul

PhD student
Research interest: Born in Vienna I studied Psychology there and did my master thesis on the topic of performance monitoring and depression. Then I moved to Ghent for an internship and I really liked the lovely city and enjoyed working with great lab members. After another fMRI training in Vienna I was lucky to get a FWO funding that allowed me to come back to Ghent for my Phd. The main topic of my research is how mood change our expectations about future events and if an optimistic/pessimistic bias can be captured in a laboratory setting using well known EEG markers of prediction errors. With my master thesis I started working on ERPs, which I still continue, but now I try to extend this knowledge by learning about time-frequency decomposition and analyzing resting state data. Private? In my spare time I enjoy my two cats, travelling abroad and baking delicious cakes for colleagues and friends. keywords?: mood, (reward) expectation, performance monitoring, EEG
Davide Gheza

Davide Gheza

PhD student
Research interest: Born in Brescia, Italy, I studied Psychology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Hearth in Brescia and at the University of Padova, where I graduated with a thesis investigating the action-observation network by means of Mu-wave rTMS-induced modulation. I then had the opportunity to pursue my interests in social-cognition topics during an internship at the Ghent University, focusing on the congruency effect elicited by the shared representations of self- and externally- generated actions. Embracing a secret love for affective neuroscience, at Ghent University I then joined a PhD project addressing the efficacy of neurostimulation treatments for major depressive disorder. Hence, currently my research toolkit includes electroencephalographic markers of reward processing and performance monitoring, together with hemispheric asymmetries indices and standard clinical measures. Spanning from the time (ERP), frequency (qEEG) to the time-frequency domain, my research aims to define reliable EEG markers of core depression's facets, with a special focus on the ones tackled by prefrontal neurostimulation treatments.
Mario Carlo Severo

Mario Carlo Severo

PhD student
Research interest: I began my undergraduate studies at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where I finished my BA in Psychology in 2011. Shortly after this, I moved to Italy to take a Master’s course in Cognitive Science at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento. During this time, I worked as a visiting intern, and later on as a research assistant, at the Social Brain Laboratory of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, where I received my EEG training. As a current PhD student of the CAP Lab, my research focuses on contextual factors of feedback processing relevant to the goal that influence performance monitoring. Particularly, using EEG, I look into modulations of the neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring (ERP components, feedback-related negativity (FRN) and P3, as well as delta and theta band oscillations) in relation to the impact of the feedback on an individual’s goal.
Qian Yang

Qian Yang

PhD student
Research interest: cognitive control, emotional effect, performance monitoring, EEG, fMRI
Sam Verschooren

Sam Verschooren

PhD student
Research interest: I started my studies in philosophy at the University of Antwerp, with a focus on philosophy of mind. Being intrigued by the neuroscientific research discussed in these courses, I decided to continue my studies in experimental and theoretical psychology at Ghent University. I find that this background in both philosophy of mind and experimental psychology is very fruitful for targeting fundamental questions with the right toolset. My main topics of interest are bodily self-awareness, interoception, cognitive control, and emotional processing. In my PhD project, I investigate the role of cognitive control in the balance between internal and external attention, using EEG and other measures.
Sebastian Schindler

Sebastian Schindler

Visiting Postdoc
Research interest: Social feedback processing; virtual communication; emotion & attention interactions (or networks); language. Webpage: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/psychologie/personen/ae02/schindler.html
Anna Marzecova

Anna Marzecova

Visiting Postdoc
Research interest: Attention, expectation, top-down influences in sensory processing, predictive coding, EEG, ERP. Website: http://home.uni-leipzig.de/biocog/content/en/staff/marzecova/

Former lab members

Kristien Aarts

Kristien Aarts

PhD student
Research interest: Emotion, Performance-monitoring, somatosensory processing, Event-related potentials. At the moment, I am working at the “centre de recherché en neuroscience de Lyon – CRNL” in France on the ERC project entitled “Brain and Mindfulness” (https://crnl.univ-lyon1.fr/index.php/fr/Accueil/ERC-Brain-Mindfulness-A.-Lutz) with Dr. Antoine Lutz. I work 70% as a project manager and 30% as a post-doctoral researcher. I more specifically use event-related potentials to study the effect of compassion vs. empathy on visual processing of emotional images as well as on pain processing in novices and experts in meditation. Website: http://u821.lyon.inserm.fr/_recherche/P2.php
Naomi Vanlessen

Naomi Vanlessen

PhD student
Research interest: Attention, positive emotion, mood, broadening, motivation, psychophysiology, ERP, C1, P3
Jasmina Bakic

Jasmina Bakic

PhD student
Research interest: My research is motivated by the intention to put together two separate, but related topics. On the one hand, I am interested in neural underpinnings of affective processes related to anhedonia and depression. Moreover, I am also interested in effects of positive emotions on human cognition. On the other hand, I am interested in motivation and reward processing, especially in reinforcement learning context. I am interested in how emotional stimuli can influence reward and punishment processing. I mostly rely on the usage of EEG and TMS in my studies.
Thibaut Dondaine

Thibaut Dondaine

Visiting Postdoc
Research interest: As clinical psychologist and researcher in pharmacology unit, my actual work aims to identify cognitive and neurophysiologic markers providing new insights into drug-related changes in neural functioning. Affiliation :INSERM U1171, Lille University Medical Center, Lille, France; Department of Medical Pharmacology, Lille University Medical Center, Lille, France.
Lien De Saedeleer

Lien De Saedeleer

PhD student
Research interest: My current research focuses on how anxiety affects action monitoring processes. Within this project I am mainly interested in how different levels of anxiety (and specifically worry) impair the affective tagging of actions and how we can shield this action monitoring process from this detrimental effect. Broadly, I use both behavioural and electrophysiological methods to understand these underlying mechanisms. Aside from my current research project I am also interested in cognitive control, motivation and conflict monitoring.