Universiteit Leiden

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Cognitive Psychology


The Cognitive Psychology Unit has two main research lines, which focus on basic cognitive (neuro)science and applied cognitive psychology.

1) Cognitive Neuroscience

A central focus of the research in our unit is to provide a basic understanding of psychological and cognitive functions. Key topics include emotion, decision making, social interaction, cognitive control and altered states of consciousness. These themes are studied in various populations, including the general public, children, patients, people taking psychedelic drugs, and non-human animals including great apes and dogs. Our unit has a rich expertise with various methodologies. For instance, we use imaging tools (fMRI and EEG), psychophysiological techniques (EMG, ECG and skin-conductance), pharmacological manipulations, data from smartphones and wearables, measurement instruments to assess attention (eye-tracking, touchscreen tasks) and advanced data science methods. Further, by using robotics, avatars in virtual environments and cognitive computational models, we gain more insight into the processes involved in and the boundaries of cognition.

2) Cognitive Ergonomics and Cognitive Enhancement 

Based on basic insights about human cognitive functions, applied cognitive psychology aims to optimize human cognition-dependent performance. A central topic is cognitive enhancement, e.g., in healthy aging, through meditation, diet, game training, pharmacology etc. Another focus area is cognitive ergonomics, e.g., designing the workplace in such a way that obstacles to reaching performance potential are mitigated. Applied cognitive psychology researchers conduct applied research (e.g., on knowledge workers’ performance; effects of life-style interventions, and interactions with automated driving), and are consulted by stakeholders in the private and public sector, e.g., on the topic of human-machine interaction. 

The research within our unit aligns with the strategic mission of the Psychology Institute, by (1) fostering collaboration between different units, (2) stimulating diverse career paths, (3) implementing open science practices, (4) using interdisciplinary research methods and (5) conducting translational research

Most of our research is carried out within the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC). The research fits with the University Research Profile ‘Social Resilience and Security’, the FSW research themes ‘Digitalisation and technological innovations’ and ‘Climate Change’ and the research topic of the Psychology Institute ‘Socio-Cognitive-Affective Decision-making’.

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