Research Groups

Cognitive Neuropsychiatry

Cognitive neuropsychiatry is a theory-driven approach to investigating psychiatric symptoms and cognitive impairments at the crossroads of psychiatry, cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Methods used are neuroimaging, computer-based cognitive tasks and psychiatric or psychological interviews or questionnaires.

Research at the section of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry focuses on three lines of investigation: psychiatric symptoms and vulnerability, with a focus on cognitive-emotional interactions; cognitive aging, with a focus on mild cognitive impairment; treatment and prevention, with a focus on non-invasive neurostimulation.

  • People
  • Publications
  • Symptoms/vulnerability
  • Cognitive aging
  • Treatment
  • Andre Aleman PhD Section Head Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Visit

    Professor Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Head of the Section Cognitive Neuropsychiatry

    Research fields

    apathy,alexithymia,psychosis,hallucinations,psychiatric disorders

    PhD student
    Rozemarijn van Kleef Msc.
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Principal Investigator
    Research Associate
    Branislava Ćurčić-Blake PhD
    Stefanie Enriquez-Geppert PhD
    • Martens, S., Munneke, J., Smid, H., & Johnson, A. (2006) Quick minds don’t blink: Electrophysiological correlates of individual differences in attentional selection. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
    • van Tol MJ*, Demenescu LR*,van der Wee NJ, Kortekaas R, Nielen MM, Den Boer JA, Renken R, van Buchem MA, Zitman FG, Aleman A, Veltman DJ (2012). BOLD fMRI correlates of emotional word encoding and recognition in depression and anxiety disorders. Biological Psychiatry
    • Schmaal L*, Marquand AF*, Rhebergen D, van Tol MJ, Ruhé HG, van der Wee NJ, Veltman DJ, Penninx BW (2015). Predicting the naturalistic course of major depressive disorder using clinical and multimodal neuroimaging information: a multivariate pattern recognition study. Biological Psychiatry
    • Ai H, Opmeer EM, Veltman DJ, van der Wee NJ, van Buchem MA, Aleman A, van Tol MJ (2015). Brain Activation During Emotional Memory Processing Associated with Subsequent Course of Depression. Neuropsychopharmacology
    • Willems, C., Damsma, A., Wierda, S. M., Taatgen, N., & Martens, S. (2015) Training-induced changes in the dynamics of attention as reflected in pupil dilation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
    • Aleman A, Denys D. (2014) Mental health: A road map for suicide research and prevention. Nature.
    • van Tol MJ*, Li W*, Li M, Miao M, Jiao Y, Heinze HJ, Bogerts B, He H, Walter M (2014). Regional Specificity of Sex Effects on Subcortical Volumes Across the Lifespan in Healthy Aging. Human Brain Mapping
    • van Tol MJ, van der Meer L, Modinos G, Bruggeman R, Knegtering H, Aleman A (2014). Voxel-based gray and white matter morphometry correlates of hallucinations in schizophrenia: the superior temporal gyrus does not stand alone. NeuroImage: Clinical
    • De Jong, P. J., Koster, E. H. W., Wessel, I., Künzli, A., Ruiter, M., & Martens, S. (2014). Distinct temporal processing of task-irrelevant facial expressions. Emotion.
    • Goerlich, K. S., Witteman, J., Schiller, N., van Heuven, V.J., Aleman, A., & Martens, S. (2014) Blunted Feelings: Alexithymia is Associated with a Diminished Neural Response to Speech Prosody. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
    • van Tol MJ, Veer IM, van der Wee NJ, Aleman A, van Buchem MA, Rombouts SA, Zitman FG, Veltman DJ, Johnstone T (2013). Whole-brain functional connectivity during emotional word classification in medication-free Major Depressive Disorder: Abnormal salience circuitry and relations to positive emotionality. NeuroImage: Clinical
    • van Tol MJ, Li M, Metzger CD, Hailla N, Horn DI, Li W, Heinze HJ, Bogerts B, Steiner J, He H, M. Walter (2013). Local cortical thinning links to resting-state disconnectivity in major depressive disorder. Psychological Medicine
    • Tumati, S., Martens, S., & Aleman, A. (2013). Magnetic resonance spectroscopy in mild cognitive impairment: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
    • Curcic-Blake B, Liemburg E, Vercammen A, Swart M, Knegtering H, Bruggeman R, Aleman A. (2012) When Broca goes uninformed: reduced information flow to Broca's area in schizophrenia patients with auditory hallucinations. Schizophr Bull.
    • Wierda, S. M., van Rijn, H., Taatgen, N., & Martens, S. (2012) Pupil dilation deconvolution reveals the dynamics of attention at high temporal resolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA
    • Goerlich, K. S., Witteman, J., Schiller, N., van Heuven, V.J., Aleman, A., & Martens, S. (2012). The Nature of affective priming in music and speech. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
    • van Tol MJ, van der Wee NJ, Demenescu LR, Nielen MM, Aleman A, Renken RJ, van Buchem MA, Veltman DJ (2011). Functional MRI correlates of visuospatial planning in outpatient depression and anxiety. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
    • Martens, S., & Wyble, B. (2010) The attentional blink: Past, present, and future of a blind spot in perceptual awareness. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.
    • van Tol MJ, van der Wee NJ, van den Heuvel OA, Aleman A, Demenescu LR, van Buchem MA, Veltman DJ, Zitman FG. (2010). Regional brain volume in depression and anxiety disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry
    • Vercammen A, Knegtering H, denBoer JA, Liemburg EJ, Aleman A.(2010) Auditory Hallucinations in Schizophrenia Are Associated with Reduced Functional Connectivity of the Temporo-Parietal Area. Biol Psychiatry
    • van Harmelen AL*, van Tol MJ*, van der Wee NJ, Veltman DJ, Aleman A, Spinhoven P, Zitman FG, Penninx BA, Elzinga BM (2010). Reduced medial prefrontal cortex volume in adults reporting childhood emotional maltreatment. Biological Psychiatry
    • Vercammen A, Knegtering H, Bruggeman R, Westenbroek HM, Jenner JA, Slooff CJ, Wunderink L, Aleman A. (2009). Effects of bilateral repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on treatment resistant auditory-verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia: a randomized controlled trial. Schizophr Res.
    • Taatgen, N. A., Juvina, I., Schipper, M., Borst, J., & Martens, S. (2009) Too much control can hurt: A threaded cognition model of the attentional blink. Cognitive Psychology.
    • Allen, P., Larøi, F., McGuire, P.K., Aleman, A. (2008). The hallucinating brain: A review of structural and functional neuroimaging studies of hallucinations. Neurosci Biobehav Rev
    • Van’t Wout M, Kahn RS, Sanfey A, Aleman A. (2006). Affective state and decision making in the Ultimatum Game. Exp Brain Res.
    • Aleman A, E Formisano, H Koppenhagen, P Hagoort, EHF de Haan, RS Kahn (2005). The functional neuroanatomy of metrical stress evaluation of perceived and imagined spoken words. Cerebral Cortex
    • Aleman A, Kahn RS. (2005) Strange feelings: do amygdala abnormalities dysregulate the emotional brain in schizophrenia? Progress in Neurobiology
    • Aleman A, De Haan EHF. (2000). Antipsychotics and working memory in schizophrenia. Science
    • Aleman, A., Hijman, R., De Haan, E.H.F., & Kahn, R.S. (1999) Memory impairment in schizophrenia: a meta-analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry
    • Duncan, J., Martens, S., & Ward, R. (1997). Restricted attentional capacity within but not between sensory modalities. Nature.
  • A major focus of research concerns the cognitive and neural basis of apathy. Patients with psychiatric disorders frequently experience markedly reduced levels of interest and a lack of initiative in daily activities, i.e. apathy. Understanding apathy contributes critically to the welfare of patients because the disease has important implications for their (social) function.

    We study the neural and cognitive basis of apathy, in order to elucidate brain circuits that may be compromised. Specifically, the involvement of frontostriatal and frontoparietal circuits, with their putatively differential role in apathy, are investigated. In addition, we investigate experimental treatments, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) and behavioral activation therapy.



    Another important focus is the neural basis of course prediction in major depressive disorder. The effects of preventive cognitive therapy in remitted depression are studied to understand the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying relapse and relapse prevention in major depressive disorder.

    Finally, we conduct research on the neural basis of suicidality. Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people in Europe. In the Netherlands, each year approximately 25.000 people need medical care after a suicide attempt. We are studying cognitive-emotional processes that may be distorted in people with suicidal tendencies. This research can potentially inform the development of new treatments.


  • Aging is an important issue for society, and many people dread the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities. Excessive memory loss can point to early phases of dementia. We study the neural basis of mild cognitive impairment (cognitive deterioration that is not yet clinically significant) in elderly people using different neuroimaging techniques. We are particularly interested in the role of apathy as predictor for conversion to dementia. We also aim to improve cognitive functioning using neurofeedback and neurostimulation.


  • Psychosocial therapies, neurofeedback and neurostimulation approaches belong to the most important strategies for improving brain functioning. The neural basis of all three is investigated by researchers in our Department. Neurostimulation concerns repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) or transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS).


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