Alexander Sack (A.T.)
Professor Dr. Alexander Sack is an internationally renowned expert in noninvasive brain stimulation, fundamental and applied cognitive neuroscience, and clinical brain research. He studied Psychology and Neuroscience with a Master of Science in Psychology and PhD in Natural Sciences (summa cum laude) from Frankfurt University, Germany. Following his PhD in Neuroscience (2003), he completed several postdoctoral and academic research positions. Since 2011, he is appointed as Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Faculty of Psychology & Neuroscience, Maastricht University. In 2012, Dr. Sack was appointed as member of The Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie, DJA) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and in 2013 member of The Young Academy of Europe (YAE).
Prof. Dr. Sack has become one of the world’s foremost pioneer and influential leader in brain stimulation research by combining and developing new tools to uncover the brain dynamics underlying human cognition and behavior. He repeatedly made theoretical & methodological breakthroughs, published in the highest-ranking journals (e.g. Science, PNAS, Neuron). He is also Principal Investigator (PI) of the research section “Brain Stimulation and Cognition” at the Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre. This research section focuses on the neurobiological and psychological principles underlying attention, learning, memory, and cognitive control; combining various brain research techniques, ranging from psychophysics and eye-tracking, to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Electroencephalography (EEG), and Noninvasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS). His group pioneered the development of simultaneously implemented TMS-fMRI-EEG during cognitive behavior, allowing to apply brain-stimulation while recording the individual brain network (fMRI) and oscillation (EEG) responses of cognitively engaged participants.
Prof. Dr. Sack has received several international prices, grants, and awards, including, e.g., NWO VENI (2004), NWO VIDI (2006), NWO VICI (2016), and ERC Consolidator grant (2011), enabling him to develop and manage a larger scale international and interdisciplinary research project on the neural network dynamics underlying human cognition in healthy volunteers and to translate these findings into clinical applications for treating various neurological and neuropsychiatric brain disorders.
In 2015, he founded and is currently still director of the Dutch-Flemish Brain Stimulation Foundation, aiming to promote scientific research and collaboration in the field of noninvasive brain stimulation and its translation to clinical practice (e.g. for treating depression). Since 2016, Prof. Dr. Sack is Vice Dean Research at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University and since 2017 Director of the inter-faculty Center for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) at Maastricht University.
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Multimodal Brain Stimulation and Brain Imaging (TMS & fMRI & EEG)
- Neurobiological and psychological principles underlying attention, memory, and cognitive control
- Neural network dynamics underlying human cognition in healthy volunteers
- Noninvasive brain stimulation for cognitive enhancement and rehabilitation after brain injury
- Applying brain stimulation in psychiatry, neurology, neuro-rehabilitation, and clinical psychology
Professional career history
Since 09/2016 Vice-Dean Research at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University
10/2015 – 09/2016 Head of Department Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University
Since 05/2015 Visiting Professor at the Department of Experimental Biomedicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Palermo University, Italy
2011 – present: Professor of Brain Stimulation and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University
2012-2017: Appointment as member of The Young Academy [De Jonge Akademie] of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
2009 – present: Chairman and program director of the international and interfacultary Research Master Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at Maastricht University (http://www.researchmaster.eu/)
2008 – 2011: Associate Professor of Spatial Cognition and Brain Plasticity at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University (fMRI; TMS; Spatial Cognition; Brain Plasticity)
2005 – present: Principal Investigator and Head of Research Unit Multimodal brain stimulation at the Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (M-BIC; http://mbic.unimaas.nl/)
2005 – 2008: Assistant Professor at the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University (Investigation of the neuronal mechanisms underlying visual perception, spatial cognition, mental imagery, and spatial attention using functional brain imaging and magnetic brain stimulation)
2004: Visiting Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Boston (USA), under the supervision of Prof. Alvaro Pascual-Leone, M.D., Ph.D. (revealing functional connectivity and inter-hemispheric compensation with TMS)
2003 – 2005: Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Rainer Goebel (Establishment of a TMS research laboratory; the experimental and synchronized combination of TMS and fMRI in cognitive neuroscience, neuronal processes in attention and perception)
2000 – 2003: PhD student in the doctoral program at the Faculty of Psychology, Frankfurt University (investigating the functional relevance of parietal cortex in visuo-spatial processing and visuo-spatial imagery using fMRI and rTMS)