Universiteit Leiden

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Laura Steenbergen

Assistant Professor

Dr. L. Steenbergen
+31 71 527 3875

From both a personal and professional point of view, I am pursuing the Human Potential. As a species, humans have always relied on their adaptability and intelligence in order to survive. It seems that all humans, regardless of their country, culture, or race, have a natural tendency to grow, develop, and learn. My aim is to enhance and optimize (cognitive) performance in healthy and safe ways, which should help in dealing with the demands of our environment, as such contributing to well-being and happiness.

From July 2014 to June 2016, I worked as a PhD student at Leiden University under the supervision of Prof. dr. Lorenza Colzato and Dr. Roberta Sellaro on the topic of Cognitive Enhancement. As part of my doctoral research, I spent one month in the Actionlab led Prof. dr. Christian Beste at the Technical University of Dresden. On the 16th of June 2016, I successfully defended my PhD thesis and received my doctorate. From June 2016 to June 2017, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Cognitive Psychology Unit of Leiden University investigating the relation between body composition, heart rate variability, and cognitive control.  Between June 2017 and June 2018, supported by an Amsterdam Brain and Cognition talent grant and an amazing group of talented students, I set up research at the University of Amsterdam and the Academic Medical Centre in order to further investigate gut-brain interactions and how these affect cognition and well-being.​ From May to August 2018, I visited the Emotions and Quantitative Psychophysiology lab led by Prof. dr. Julian Thayer at the Ohio State University. As of August 2018, supported by an NWO Veni grant, I am back in Leiden to investigate how the vagal nerve relates to cognitive- and affective processing and how gut bacteria influence physiological processes, our brains, and subsequent behavior, and how we may use that to enhance our well-being. For the work I have done so far, I was recently awarded the Young Scientist award from the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 

I love sharing my experience, knowledge, and ideas, and giving people food for thought! For example, in 2017/2018, together with Coen Verbraak, Patrick van Hees, and Jan Kuipers, I performed in a number of theaters in the Netherlands as part of our theater lecture series "Op Zoek naar Geluk".
​A combination of these outreach and scientific efforts resulted in me ending up in the top 25 'New Scientist Wetenschapstalent' election from the Dutch New Scientist. 

The research I am currently conducting is funded by a Veni grant received from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO; 2018), a Talent Grant from Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (2017), and a public-private Enabling Technologies Hotels grant from ZonMw (2017).

Do you want to know more about me and/or my work? Check out my personal website www.LauraSteenbergen.com

Assistant Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Klinische Psychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 2B31



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