M-BIC Research

Research at M-BIC combines the study of human perception and cognition with the development of advanced methods in neuroscience. Various brain-imaging methods are employed to understand, predict, and change human behaviour. The research involves international and inter-disciplinary collaborations among psychologists, neuroscientists, bioengineers, IT experts, radiologists, and neurologists. M-BIC offers research facilities that were newly established within the Brains Unlimited project, including high (3 Tesla) and ultra-high (7 and 9.4 Tesla) magnetic fields MR scanners.

M-BIC tests and develops new theories of normal and abnormal neural information processing, with special attention to brain plasticity, perception and cognition, and the development of new methods for MR image acquisition and analysis. BrainVoyager, an internationally leading fMRI analysis and visualisation software package, is developed by Prof. Rainer Goebel within this group. Research activities are conducted in close collaboration with the Siemens Medical Systems (Erlangen, Germany) and with national and international leading brain imaging centers.

M-BIC research lines

Research line 1
Auditory Perception and Cognition

Brain and Emotion Laboratory

Research line 2

Led by: Beatrice De Gelder - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

The Brain and Emotions laboratory is led by Professor Beatrice de Gelder. The group's research focuses on cognitive and affective neuroscience of intersensory perception, between different sensory systems, primarily on visual processes, the interaction between seeing and hearing and on how perception, emotion and cognition interact in humans. Behavioural and neurofunctional approaches (ERPs, fMRI, MEG and TMS) are used in an integrated fashion.

The group’s main interests lies in conscious and non-conscious recognition in patients with cortical damage, emotional expression from whole bodies, face recognition and its deficits, and multisensory perception and the interaction between auditory and visual processes. Rare neuropsychological disorders (e.g. prosopagnosia) as well as familiar neurological disorders (e.g. autism, unilateral neglect, Huntington’s disease and schizophrenia) are investigated and compared with patterns observed in normal and neurologically intact populations.

There are multiple collaborations, within the institute as well as with researchers at the universities in Leuven, Tübingen, the Center for Biomedical Imaging in Massachusetts and the Montreal Neurological institute, Copenhagen, Taipei and Havana.

The research is funded by past and present ERC grants and other EU grant programmes.

If you want to know more about the research, take a look at Professor de Gelder’s website to see the latest publications, news and conferences.

  • http://www.beatricedegelder.com/ 
  • https://twitter.com/BodiesBig


View all publications

Computational architecture of visual processing streams

Research line 3

Led by: Rainer Goebel - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

Computational architecture of visual processing streams
This research group aims to answer the question which neuronal representations are used in the brain and how they are processed to enable specific perceptual and cognitive functions. These questions are investigated by integrating high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with columnar-level neural network modeling and the development of advanced analysis tools.

We still know little about the representations coded inside specialised brain areas and how complex features emerge from combinations of simpler features when we move from one area to the next. With high-field MRI scanners (7 Tesla and beyond), the achievable functional resolution reaches to the sub-millimeter level (500–1000 microns). This is important since neurons with similar response properties seem to spatially cluster into functional units (cortical columns) with a lateral extent of hundreds of microns. Studying the brain at columnar resolution seems to be the appropriate level to reveal the principles that the brain uses to code information. We believe that a massive attempt to crack the columnar-level code in as many areas as possible will ultimately lead to a deeper understanding how mind emerges from simpler units in the brain.

Our progress in understanding brain mechanisms forms the basis of neuroscientific applications. This group has contributed to the development of fMRI neurofeedback and fMRI-based brain computer interfaces (BCI) and is further reducing methodological and conceptual limitations by improving artifact control, sensitivity, real-time algorithms, and experimental designs. Physiological self-regulation of the local BOLD response has become a new paradigm for cognitive neuroscience to study brain plasticity and the functional relevance of regulated brain areas by modification of behaviour. Voluntary control of (abnormal) activity in circumscribed brain areas may even be applied as a therapeutic tool. Furthermore, fMRI-based BCIs might constitute an alternative approach for brain-based communication in severely motor-impaired so-called ‘locked-in’ patients.


View all publications

Brain and Language

Research line 4

Led by: Milene Bonte - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

The Brain and Language group aims at understanding cognitive and brain mechanisms underlying language and language development. Our research investigates neural transformations of auditory (speech perception) and visual (reading, object perception) signals into meaningful messages and of thoughts and images into speech plans (speech production). Furthermore we investigate the formation and fine-tuning of these transformations during typical and anomalous language development (dyslexia).

Our research employs tailored psychophysical paradigms for adults and children with and without language disorders, combined with measurements of brain activity at high temporal (EEG), spatial (fMRI at 3T, 7T) and spatio-temporal (ECoG) resolution. We zoom into  underlying brain mechanisms by analysing our data using advanced analysis techniques including multivariate EEG/fMRI pattern analysis, functional connectivity and fMRI ‘encoding’ analysis. Moreover we assess individual brain-behaviour relations by linking these brain measures to different types of behavioural measures including on-line task performance, real-time MRI of vocal tract gestures and cognitive and reading skills.


View all publications

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Research line 5

Led by: Lisa Jonkman - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

Research of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience group is devoted to understanding typical and atypical behavioural and neurocognitive development across the lifespan. One research line of the group focuses on the life-span development of attention/cognitive control and its relations with social-emotional development, and another line focuses on the development of sensorimotor and numeracy skills. We run large scale behavioural as well as brain imaging studies in schools and in the lab primarily using electroencephalography (EEG/ERP) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). By using neuroimaging techniques, we aim to learn more about the neural processes that underlie typical and atypical sensorimotor, numeracy and attention-emotion development and its interaction with external factors like the environment and learning, with the ultimate goal to translate basic research into clinical and educational practice. 


View all publications

Brain Stimulation and Cognition

Research line 6

Led by: Teresa Schuhmann

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

The Brain Stimulation and Cognition group at Maastricht University aims to unravel the psychological and neural mechanisms of human cognition and behaviour. How is it that a brain, simply a collection of cells, can give rise to something as rich and expansive as everyday human experience? How does the brain solve the many problems -easy or difficult- that we encounter in our daily lives? Our group specifically focusses on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) methodologies combined with neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG) techniques to study functional network accounts of human cognition, and to develop and apply brain-based neuromodulation therapies for various neuropsychiatric disorders.

Our research lines span from basic cognitive neuroscience in health volunteers, to methodological advancements in brain stimulation technology and protocols, all the way to clinical applications in psychiatry, neurology, and rehabilitation. We are interested in the neural network dynamics underlying human cognition, but also investigate the role of brain oscillations in perception, memory, attention, and inhibitory control. We make an effort to advance NIBS methodology, optimising parameters and employing multimodal approaches combining TMS and TES with neuroimaging and neurophysiology as well as expanding closed-loop approaches to NIBS. Our group pioneered the development of simultaneously implemented TMS-fMRI-EEG during cognitive behaviour and has demonstrated the brain-state-and task-dependency of NIBS. We have successfully translated our fundamental and methodological work to the clinic including neuromodulation therapies for depression (now regulatory approved and reimbursed), OCD, and cognitive rehabilitation after stroke.  

Our interdisciplinary and translational research program continues to deliver both, fundamental insights into neurobiological mechanisms of attention, working memory, and inhibitory control in healthy participants, and new brain-system-based personalised interventions for clinical applications in psychiatry, neurology, and neurorehabilitation. Please find out more about our group on our own page.


MR Methods for Neuroscience

Research line 7

Led by: Ben Poser - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

The MR-Methods group is engaged in the development of methods for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional (f)MRI including pulse sequences, image reconstruction and image processing. These methods aim to provide high-quality MR imaging of the structure and function of the in-vivo human brain and its underlying biophysical and physiological processes. The group has specific focus on high-resolution (f)MRI, non-BOLD fMRI methods, accelerated acquisitions, and advanced image reconstruction, where most emphasis lies on applications at ultra-high field (7T and 9.4T). Examples include arterial spin labeling and vascular space occupancy techniques, simultaneous multi-slice and 3D spiral acquisitions, physiological noise correction approaches and high-resolution vasculature mapping.


View all publications

Perception, Attention and Learning

Research line 8

Led by: Peter de Weerd - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

Research in our group focuses on cognitive processes that modulate perception. Many of our cognitive abilities are related to the modulation of connectivity between neurons. Such modulation can occur in a flexible or reversible way, as is the case during perception of ambiguous figures, or during selective attention. The modulation can also occur in a more permanent way, which corresponds to a form of learning or memory formation. More permanent modulation of neuronal connectivity requires plastic neuronal changes that are guided by gene expression. In our research programme, we focus on a few specific paradigms that permit to attack questions related to the flexibility of perception, to attention, and to learning, using approaches that vary from psychophysics and fMRI in humans to neurophysiological and molecular approaches in animals. Most of the research takes place in the visual system.


View all publications


Research line 9

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

Method development to improve data quality and data analysis forms the long term basis for staying at the international top of excellent research in Cognitive Neuroscience and adjacent disciplines. The method group is continuously optimising imaging sequences and improving signal-to-noise ratio both in terms of data acquisition (MR physics, hardware of the Siemens scanner, experimental design) and data pre-processing (filtering, alignment of functional and anatomical images). In addition, international expertise of advanced data analysis is available and further developed (ICA, DTI, advanced multivariate brain signal processing such as support vector machines).

The group has expertise in a variety of neuroimaging methods, such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Electroencephalography (EEG), and recently Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). The group is working on an efficient combination of these methods, which allow observing (fMRI, EEG, MEG) and modulating (TMS) the brain “at work”, revealing details about the spatial distribution, response strength, and timing of activated brain areas. In this multidisciplinary group the synergy between method development and content applications is considered extremely relevant. Most of this is implemented in the software package BrainVoyager.


  • Rainer Goebel (Advanced multi-modal data analysis, real-time fMRI / fNIRS)
  • Elia Formisano (Pattern recognition analysis of neural signals)
  • Alard Roebroeck (Computational brain connectivity)
  • Alexander Sack (Multi-modal brain stimulation)
  • Kamil Uludag (FMRI acquisition methods & modeling)

Multiscale Imaging of Brain Connectivity

Research line 10

Led by: Alard Roebroeck - Profile page

Choose other research lines in the selection menu to the right.

The section's research focusses on the human brain, investigating both its structure and function. The emphasis is on intricately connected circuits in the human cortex, and how they support computations that enable human perceptual and cognitive capabilities. The adult human brain consists of about 80 billion neurons, each of them making, on average, 10 to 20 thousand connections to other neurons. No other organ is so densely and intricately connected as the brain. Much is still unknown about how the circuits formed by these connections support the communication of activity between neurons and, ultimately, the computations the brain can perform. In the section lab we use state-of-the-art 3D imaging methods to measure the connectivity in brain circuits at different spatial scales. We then model the activity and computations these circuits might support and relate these to measurements of human brain activity. We have a strong methods development component and develop hardware and software technology. We use this technology to answer basic and applied questions about human brain circuits and computations, such as:

  • How is layered cortical architecture (cell size and density, axon density and myelination) related to cortical microcircuits?
  • How does cortical connectivity at multiple spatial scales enable cortical circuit computations needed for perception and cognition?
  • How does the breakdown of neurons and connections in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease lead to loss of function and even people’s very personality?

Staff members:

For more information about the research and publications in the section, click …