The Predictive Brain lab frequently welcomes researchers from other universities and institutes. These researchers come to the Donders Institute for a limited amount of time to learn techniques and work on projects. One of these researchers is Cooper Smout, who has spent 7 months with us. Below he shares his motivations and experiences.
What is your (research) background?
I received a Bachelor of Science with Honours (I) in psychology at The University of Queensland, and am now in the final year of my PhD at the Queensland Brain Institute, investigating the neural mechanisms of prediction and attention.
When and why did you join the Predictive Brain Lab?
I joined the lab in February of this year after winning an Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship. I had read a lot of interesting research coming out of this lab during my PhD, so I applied for the scholarship because I wanted to check out the institute and lab for myself. Also, I was keen to use magnetoencephalography (MEG) and the Donders has a great reputation for this technique.
What did you work on during your time with us?
I mostly worked on an MEG study that aims to investigate the neural underpinnings of prediction in perceptual decision making. This study is a collaboration with Floris de Lange, Eelke Spaak, and my Australian PhD supervisor, Jason Mattingley. While here I also finalised a previous project, which has since been published. Finally, I spent some time developing a fledgling Open Science project FreeOurKnowledge.org that aims to tackle problems in the scholarly publishing industry.
How did you experience the lab, the Donders Institute, and the Netherlands?
I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone both at work and around Nijmegen, especially the Inspirational Hike (thanks Marisha!) and games nights. The Donders is a great institute, very well organized and with all the best toys, both the scientific (MEG) and less scientific (e.g. the footbalino table in the canteen!). I’ve made some really good friends here, who I’m sure I’ll miss, but am also hoping to see again in the not-too-distant future!
What are your plans for the future?
For now, I’m heading back home to Australia to write up my PhD and submit in the next 6 months. After that, I’m hoping to devote more time to Project Free Our Knowledge so that we can launch the campaign officially in 2019, and then continue working on that campaign alongside my research interests in attention, prediction and conscious awareness.