Social Events

Lab Retreat and CAOs Conference 2024 (Rovereto, Italy)

BAD exhibition at MU art space (Eindhoven)


Lab dinners

Donders Day Out

PBL meets Visual Cognitive Neuroscience lab

PBL hosts Theeuwes lab

Lab news

Predictive Brain Lab goes to Italy for Lab Retreat and CAOs Conference!

14 May, 2024

This year, the Predictive Brain lab embarked on a journey to Italy to have their lab retreat at the city of Rovereto, where our post-doc Ingmar de Vries has been collaborating with colleagues from the Center for Mind and Brain Sciences (CIMEC) for the last couple of years. This activity was combined with the intellectually stimulating Concepts, Actions, and Objects Conference (CAOs), taking place that same week.


After a long train ride from the Netherlands to Italy, we were rewarded with stunning mountain views and a schedule full of team bonding and science activities. The group took part in relaxing early morning meditations, a scientific trivia hike, brainstorming possible collaborations through mind-matching, and thinking about the big questions in science that concern everyone in our lab. 

We then moved towards the buildings of CIMEC to learn about current research on the topics of Concepts, Actions, and Objects. Our PI, Floris, was one of the key speakers at the conference, sharing his knowledge on 'Predictions in Visual Cognition' with everyone. Additionally, both Ingmar de Vries and Mandy Bartsch delivered two inspiring short talks after being recognized with the abstract awards. Overall, it was a week full of science and fun for the lab!

Hung Lu Chan wins a BAD award (which is good) together with Floris & Floortje

1 September, 2023

The Bio Art & Design award is given to artists to, in collaboration with scientists, bring an inspired project to real life. From our side it started with speed dating artists that liked to collaborate with us as their project involved neuroscience. We (Floris & Floortje) entered this adventure with two talented artists, helping them develop their project proposal further and support them on the final day of presentations. Hung Lu Chan (Michael) was amongst the lucky winners. This means we get to help him reconstruct alien imagination mixing AI technology and fMRI:

Driven by curiosity, humans’ alien imaginations serve as a lens to perceive other worlds; however, they are entirely shaped by preconceptions. This project explores diverse alien interpretations, highlighting their sociopolitical influence on perceptions of otherness. Utilizing fMRI and Midjourney, our alien imaginations will be investigated personally and collectively by applying guided meditation to individuals and AI respectively. Ultimately, an atlas visualizing aliens from the internal worlds will be developed, prompting audiences to introspect their cognitive biases and perceptions of otherness.

Mark your calendar: 15th of December the BAD exhibition at MU art space (Eindhoven) launches!

PBL hosts Theeuwes lab

1 July, 2023

After having visiting the Theeuwes Lab from Amsterdam a yer or so ago, it was our turn to host them for a day of science & socialising. We had a full day of many presentations and discussions and after all that mutual inspiration it was time for a nice dinner and well deserved drinks. Can you spot the two PI’s? (hot tip: they are too busy talking to look at the camera 😉 Thanks Theeuwes lab!  

PBL meets Visual Cognitive Neuroscience lab

17 May, 2023

The Predictive Brain Lab spent a fantastic afternoon with the Visual Cognitive Neuroscience lab, headed by Marius Peelen. We got to know each other through a series of flash talks, worked together in groups brainstorming about the big questions, and wrapped up the day with a nice dinner. We’re excited for potential future collaborations between the groups – stay tuned!

Hooray—4 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships for the Predictive Brain Lab!

4 April, 2023

We’re excited to announce that the Predictive Brain Lab’s very own Eva Berlot, Lea-Maria Schmitt and Yamil Vidal as well as Judit Fazekas from the University of Manchester have been awarded Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowships to conduct their research in our lab!

As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow, Eva will tackle the question of how complex, meaning-based expectations influence basic visual processing. Lea will study the computational underpinnings of efficiently representing and updating visual predictions along cortical layers. Yamil will investigate how the auditory system combines sensory evidence and prior expectations to hear in noise. Judit will probe the role of prediction in language acquisition.

The fellowships are part of a highly competitive funding scheme by the European Union to support postdoctoral researchers in honing their skills and developing their careers by going abroad for two years. We’re all the more in awe that all four applications were successful!

You can find out more about the exiting day of acceptance notifications as well as the awardees’ research plans in the press release of the Donders Institute.

Congratulations to all four awardees!—And stay tuned for some great science.

Congratulations dr. Manahova!

21 October, 2022

Marisha successfully defended her thesis “familiarity and expectation in visual processing”.

We were all in awe with her performance and the many duckies!

We wish dr. Manahova the best for her next steps in life!

Congratulations dr. Yan!

1 September, 2022

Chuyao Yan succesfully defended his thesis “The interplay between prior knowledge and sensation in perception” 

All the more impressive considering he had to zoom in for his defense from China and just became a father. So double congratulations to you, dr. Yan!

Congratulations dr. Heilbron!

1 July, 2022

Micha Heilbron successfully defended his thesis “Getting Ahead: Prediction as a Window into Language, and Language as a Window into the predictive brain”. He used language processing to evaluate the predictive processing framework. Use your predictive brain to read more in his dissertation, listed here.

Congratulations dr. Heilbron. Just like the predictive brain, you are getting ahead! 

Congratulations dr. Zhou!

28 June, 2022

As expected our talented Ying Joey Zhou defended her thesis ” Learning to Perceive and Perceiving to learn: How learning and prediction shape sensory processing” to great satisfaction! She was supervised by our own Floris, but also by Janneke Jehee and Saskia Heagens. She will move to Oxford to work with Kia Nobre, where we expect she will do great things… Congratulations dr. Zhou!

Congratulations dr. van Lieshout!

10 June, 2022

We are beyond proud that Lieke van Lieshout defended her thesis ‘Why so curious? The cognitive and neural mechanisms of information seeking‘ and did so in an impressive way. Lieke was  co-supervised by Floris and Roshan Cools. Lieke will continue her research on curiousity and we are excited to see what this brings… Go Go Go dr. Lieke!

Floris de Lange wins Ammodo Science Award

2 April, 2021

We are happy to announce that Floris de Lange won an Ammodo Science Award 2021!

It’s a biannual award given to eight scientists in the Netherlands for their contributions to fundamental research in one of four scientific domains. The associated prize money can be used to explore new research ideas.
Floris received the award for his research on human perception, curiosity and how the brain might work as a prediction machine.

For more information on the work by Ammodo click here.

Congratulations, Floris!

Congratulations dr. Richter!

22 March, 2021

On March 11th 2021, David Richter successfully defended his thesis “Prediction throughout visual cortex: How statistical regularities shape sensory processing”. He investigated how expectations influence sensory processing throughout the sensory brain by performing fMRI experiments and making use of statistical learning paradigms. His work focused in particular on the phenomenon ‘expectation suppression’ that refers to an attenuation of neural activity in response to an expected stimulus compared to an unexpected stimulus. His thesis can be found here where you can read and download the dissertation in pdf format. David continues to work in the lab as a post-doc researching the neural correlates of consciousness.

Accompanying the defense, David Richter and Floris de Lange organized an online symposium “Statistical learning: How does the brain learn and predict the sensory world?” on March 12th 2021. The talks addressed the question how the brain learns statistical regularities and predicts sensory input across different modalities. The speakers were Clare Press (Birkbeck University of London, UK), Ram Frost (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel), Maria Chait (University College London Ear Institute, UK), Heleen Slagter (VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and Nicholas Turk-Browne (Yale University, USA).

Many congratulations, David!

Three defenses in three months

9 April, 2019

We are proud to say that these past three months three of our lab members received the honour of getting a doctorate degree. Erik te Woerd defended his topic: ‘Feeling the beat’ on the neurophysiology of cueing in Parkinson’s disease. Next up was Pim Mostert who defended his dissertation named ‘The dynamics of visual representations under top down modulation’. Last, but not least was Erik Meijs on ‘conscious perception in the predictive brain’. We congratulate all three on their achievement and thank them for their contributions to the lab and of course to the field cognitive neuroscience. All their great work is now ready for all to read on our fresh website page where you can download all dissertations in pdf format.

Two Marie Curie grants!

6 March, 2019

The predictive brain lab is happy to announce that both a current member, Alexandra Vlassova, and a member-to-be, Christoph Huber-Huber, have received a Marie Curie grant to execute their postdoctoral research within our lab.

Alya Vlassova will be probing the drive of curiosity, more specifically how metacognitive evaluations of uncertainty modulate curiosity, using fMRI an decoded neurofeedback techniques.
Christoph Huber-Huber will be putting a predictive coding account of saccadic eye movements to the test using EEG, MEG and eye tracking.

Congratulations to both!

Dr. Floris de Lange is now Prof. Floris de Lange

4 December, 2018

On November 23, 2018, Floris gave his inaugural lecture: Ceci n’est pas une pipe. During this lecture, he discussed, among other things: the key ingredients of a predictive brain, why we don’t hallucinate our thoughts, how expectations filter our perception and why we are curious. If this made you curious, you’re in luck! The inaugural lecture can be seen on youtube.

Congratulations dr. Lüttke!

20 November, 2018

Claudia Lüttke successfully defended her thesis “What you see is what you hear: Visual influences on auditory speech perception”.

In a conversation we do not only effortlessly translate soundwaves into words and sentences, but we also use the oral movements of the opposite communication partner to understand what is being said. These mouth movements can even have a direct effect on what we hear someone say, as is famously illustrated by the McGurk illusion (spoken /ba/ sound and mouth movements of the syllable /ga/ is perceived as ‘da’). This thesis investigates these visual influences of seeing the speaker’s mouth on auditory speech perception using functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioural experiments. Among others, it demonstrated that auditory perception can be flexible. Auditory speech perception can be affected by integrating mismatching audio-visual input. Importantly, this after-effect persists in the absence of visual stimulation.

Congratulations dr. Lüttke!

Cooper Smout returns to Australia after 7 month visit to the lab

12 November, 2018

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 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.

International premiere for ‘The Prediction Machine’

6 November, 2018

The Prediction machine is a documentary about the work done in our lab, made by Marleine van der Werf in collaboration with Floris de Lange. It was an opening film at last year’s Inscience festival. Recently it premiered internationally at Imagine Science festival in New York and the next stop will be the festival du Pariscience in Paris.

You can watch the movie by clicking this link.

 “the short documentary ‘The Prediction Machine’ focuses on the research of acclaimed Dutch Professor Floris de Lange. In his ‘Predictive brain lab’ he explores what predictions do with our perception. Inspired by the film ‘The Blade Runner’ in his teens, de Lange became interested in the human brain and the question of whether you could reproduce it. But when he realised that no one has ever succeeded to create artificial intelligence that can perceive as well as humans do, the first step in his research became to understand our brain.”

Three NWO grants awarded to Predictive Brain Lab members!

19 July, 2018

Three grants have been awarded to members of the Predictive Brain Lab by the National Dutch organisation for scientific research NWO.

Floortje Bouwkamp received a Research talent grant to pursue her PhD within the lab. She will study how expectations can improve visual search.

Matthias Ekman and Eelke Spaak both received a Veni grant  and will be post-doctoral fellows in the Predictive Brain Lab for a period of three years. Matthias will be investigating rewind and fast-forward mechanisms in the visual system and Eelke’s research will be about the neural mechanisms of expectations in relation to consciousness.

Congratulations Floortje, Matthias and Eelke!

Opening the black decoding box

19 July, 2018

Three grants have been awarded to members of the Predictive Brain Lab by the National Dutch organisation for scientific research NWO.

Floortje Bouwkamp received a Research talent grant to pursue her PhD within the lab. She will study how expectations can improve visual search.

Matthias Ekman and Eelke Spaak both received a Veni grant  and will be post-doctoral fellows in the Predictive Brain Lab for a period of three years. Matthias will be investigating rewind and fast-forward mechanisms in the visual system and Eelke’s research will be about the neural mechanisms of expectations in relation to consciousness.

Congratulations Floortje, Matthias and Eelke!

Eelke Spaak returns to the Donders Institute

21 Februar, 2018

It has been a couple of months since post-doctoral researcher Eelke Spaak returned to the Donders Institute. High time for an introduction!

Can you tell us about your return to the Predictive Brain Lab?

It is indeed not the first time I’ve been here! I did my PhD primarily in Ole Jensen’s lab, from 2010 to 2014, who was still at the Donders Institute during that time. I guess I was an ‘affiliate member’ of the Predictive Brain lab back then, joining a group meeting and/or retreat every now and then. Floris de Lange was my co-promotor.

Where else have you done research?

Between obtaining my PhD and coming back to join Floris’ group I worked in Oxford for just short of three years, with Mark Stokes. Although I’m happy to be back here, I have to say Oxford is also a great place to work!

What are your research interests?

In Oxford I studied working memory, specifically whether and how rapid changes in neural connectivity might underlie the maintenance of working memory information. Here in Nijmegen I will focus on how contextual information modulates visual perception in both conscious and unconscious manners. I’ll likely work on leveraging neural (oscillatory) activity as measured through MEG to try to uncover the neural mechanisms responsible for the interaction between context and conscious awareness.

When you are not doing research, what do you like to do?

Like many people I enjoy travelling, watching films, playing games, and having drinks with friends. Perhaps less common are my strong affinity with classical music, plus a keen interest in tap dance.

Predictive Brain Lab at NVP Winter Conference

18 December, 2017

Last week the Predictive Brain Lab visited the NVP Winterconference 2017 held by the Dutch Society for Psychonomics (Nederlandse Vereniging Voor Psychonomie). It is a biannual event where over 300 (mainly Dutch) researchers in the field of experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience, stationed both in and outside the Netherlands, touch base to present their work and gather socially.

During three days we enjoyed many keynote talks, symposia, talks, poster sessions as well as social events. It gave a very inspiring overview of the current state of cognitive neuroscience in the Netherlands at the various vibrant research facilities across the country:  be it small, the quality was high.

We as a lab were involved in this event in many ways: Samuel Lawrence organised a very well attended symposium on layered fMRI, with contributions of Matthew Self, Serge Dumoulin, and where he himself presented his project on the contributions of cortical layers to sustained visual cortex activity during visual working memory.

Matthias Fritsche gave a talk on how discrimination judgements alter the appearance of visual stimuli. Christian Utzerath’s talk was about typical fMRI repetition suppression, but atypical surprise response in individuals with autism. Matthias Ekman presented the latest findings of his foreward replay of stimulus sequences in human visual cortex. David Richter talked about the neural effects of perceptual expectations throughout the ventral visual stream, followed by Mariya Manahova who demonstrated how prior knowledge modulates visual processing in the ventral visual stream. Micha Heilbron presented how he developed a new paradigm to show that subjective confidence reveals the hierarchical nature of learning during his internship in Paris.

Biao Han presented a poster on his latest project demonstrating that prior expectations can modulate early auditory responses and representations. Lieke van Lieshout  presented a poster on her research on how curiosity varies with uncertainty about information, and not it’s expected value. Tao He’s project on predictive remapping of visual features beyond saccadic targets was also shown in a poster.

Moreover, Floris de Lange invited Christopher Summerfield who gave an amazing talk on the irrationality and optimality of human decision making. In an inspiring hour he walked us through his computationally grounded theoretical framework that showed that when considering ‘late noise;’ being the constraints imposed by capacity limits in information processing by the brain, we can redefine seemingly irrational decision making as optimal. And this holds for perceptual decision making but can also be extended to more economic or value based decision making. Food for thought!

On a personal note; I had never attended conference before and I believe it was a perfect ‘first time’. It is relatively small and very social; I especially enjoyed the many inspiring and enthusiastic interactions I had with other researchers. However, I was also blown away by the intensity of attending such a densely packed and high quality event of which I did not want to miss a minute. The result after these three days was an extremely tired but even more inspired neuroscience student.

Annelinde Vandenbroucke says goodbye to the lab

6 December, 2017

Post-doctoral researcher Annelinde Vandenbroucke is, sadly leaving the Donders Institute. We said goodbye to our dear colleague and asked her about her time in the Predictive Brain Lab.

When did you join the Predictive Brain Lab?

I officially joined the Predictive Brain Lab in August 2014 on a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship. The first two years of this fellowship, however, I was situated at UC Berkeley in the US, so I only came to lab twice in those years. From September 2016 onward I was based at the Donders full time.

What did you work on during your time with us?

I mainly investigated the neural underpinnings of working memory representations and how these change under different conditions of attention. I also greatly enjoyed working with Tao He on his project about the effect of eye movements on working memory representations, and with Lieke van Lieshout on her project about the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying curiosity.

What are your fondest memories of the lab?

What I really like about the lab is that everyone likes to hang out together, which resulted in frequent excursions, for example to have unlimited sushi for dinner. Also, the two-day retreats were lots of fun. Because everyone is so open-minded and friendly, the atmosphere in the group was great. I felt very much at home.

What will you miss most when you are gone?

I will miss all my smart, interested lab mates, my genuinely caring principal investigator Floris, the funny lunch memes, the international environment and all nice colleagues at the Donders.

What does the future have in store for you?

I hope my future, perhaps as a scientific or educational program coordinator, will have a similar work environment for me in store. Predattors/PreBrainers, you will be missed!

We will miss you too, Annelinde!

The Prediction Machine documentary premieres at InScience festival

6 December, 2017

How do we convey scientific insights to the general public? InScience, a science film festival, knows the answer: on the big screen. That is why they started the initiative InVision. This marriage between researchers and filmmakers has now resulted into the documentary The Prediction Machine.

The Prediction Machine is a documentary about prediction in the brain and the research of the Predictive Brain Lab. Produced by artist and documentary maker Marleine van der Werf, the movie does not only provide a picture of the daily research practice, but visualises how the brain uses predictions to fill in missing visual input and establish a stable perception of the world around us.

The Prediction Machine premieres Friday November 10th at 3:30 pm at the InScience festival in Nijmegen.

Click here for a Vox article (in Dutch) about the documentary.

Anke Marit Albers successfully defends her PhD thesis and is interviewed by de Volkskrant

10 July, 2017

Anke Marit Albers has successfully defended her PhD thesis!

De Volkskrant published a very nice interview with her about her PhD research.

Click here for a PDF of the interview (in Dutch).