Research Groups

Group van Tol

Our research focuses on unravelling the multi-factorial nature of vulnerability for major depression and other major psychiatric disorders by studying the neurocognitive profile in relation to psychiatric comorbidity, its course, treatment effects, genetic risk, personality, and early trauma using innovative neuroimaging techniques.

We take a symptom focused and individual course trajectory approach in studying the development and maintenance of psychiatric disorders. Our research is interdisciplinary in nature, as it combines the research fields of clinical psychiatry, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, neuroradiology, and neuroscience.

By studying the neurocognitive mechanisms of vulnerability for psychiatric disorders and their treatments, we aim to understand what is needed to alter the course of psychiatric disorders and to improve psychiatric treatment.

  • People
  • NESDA Neuroimaging
  • Apathy study
  • Learning to preserve
  • Marie-José van Tol PhD Visit

    Assistant Professor Group leader of Neurocognition of Mood Disorders

    Research fields

    Functional Neuroimaging, Structural Neuroimaging, Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Preventive Cognitive Therapy, Longitudinal Imaging

    PhD student
    Saskia Nijmeijer MSc.
    Marlijn Besten Msc.
    Rozemarijn van Kleef Msc.
  • In this randomized clinical trial we investigate the neurocognitive working mechanisms of preventive cognitive therapy for preventing relapse in new depressive episodes. For this project, MJ van Tol received a VENI-grant from NWO and a Hersenstichting (Dutch Brain Foundation) fellowship. For more information, see

  • The Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA; study is the world’s largest longitudinal, multi-center functional neuroimaging project in a cohort of people with depression and anxiety disorders. MJ van Tol has been involved since the baseline measurement in 2005 and now coordinate the project as Principal Investigator for the Groningen part. We are currently preparing the 14 year follow-up measurement. The primary objective of the NESDA neuroimaging study is to understand why one person is depressed or suffers from an anxiety disorder only once, while the other person develops a chronic depression/anxiety disorder.

  • In this large clinical neuroimaging-study of Prof. dr. André Aleman, non-pharmacological neuro-stimulative and behavioral treatment of apathy in schizophrenia is investigated. MJ van Tol worked as a post-doc on this project and continued to be involved ever since, mostly as a PhD supervisor. For more information see

  • This interdisciplinary PhD project funded by the University Groningen is a Young Academy Groningen inspired collaboration with dr. Merel Keijzer (applied linguistics, faculty of arts). In this innovative interdisciplinary project we study the relation between bilingualism, cognitive flexibility, and risk for disorders of old age (including dementia and major depressive disorder) using cross-sectional and experimental approaches including functional MRI

  • In this clinical neuroimaging project, financed by the Dutch Scientific Organization (NWO), we aim to 1) understand the underlying neural mechanisms of suicidality and 2) to develop neurocognitive markers predictive of risk for relapse of suicidal behavior despite adequate application of standard treatment protocol. This project is a collaboration between the Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Specialized Mental Health Care institutions. For more information see

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