Eye of a proband while pupillometry on pc

Research Group Psychophysiology

Victor Spoormaker

Our aim is to understand and measure affective processes relevant to psychiatric disorders. We do this by stressing the system in order to see whether it dysfunctions, which typically requires a task such as presenting pleasant or aversive stimuli during on-screen picture viewing. We measure participants with and without psychiatric symptoms in the MR-scanner, the Psychophysiology Laboratory, the immersive Virtual Reality Laboratory and in the home-environment. We aim to capture affective states and processes with dynamic readouts, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), startle electromyography around the eye, heart rate and galvanic skin response measured on the fingers and eye tracking with a high-speed camera for gaze direction and pupil dilation. Our ambulatory devices can track participants over weeks and include wristwatch-based actigraphy and pulse-plethysmography and headband electroencephalography (EEG).

Our vision is that our experimental approaches would provide a bridge between neuroscientific research and our hospital. Neuroscience is making quick and important progress in our understanding of how the brain works and deals with emotions, but too little of that knowledge can be applied in the clinic, which still has to depend on subjective interviews and questionnaires. By using similar experimental tasks and readouts across species, our vision is to set up a translational bridge from neuroscience to clinical psychiatry and to test early translational biomarkers in their utility for the clinic.

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