Universiteit Leiden

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Michiel van Elk

Associate Professor

Dr. M. van Elk
+31 71 527 2727

Michiel van Elk is Assistant Professor at the unit Cognitive Psychology of the Institute of Psychology.

More information about Michiel van Elk

Short CV

Michiel obtained degrees in philosophy (MA), biological psychology (MSc) and the psychology of religion (MSc) in Utrecht, Amsterdam and Nijmegen. He completed his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen (cum laude). He worked as a visiting researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara (2010), as a Marie Curie post-dotoral fellow at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (2010-2012), as a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University (2017), as a Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Amsterdam (2019-2010) and as a researcher at the University of Amsterdam (2013-2020). Since 2020 Michiel is affiliated to the University of Leiden and supported by grants from the Templeton Foundation, NWO and the BIAL Foundation he supervises the Religion Cognition and Behavior Lab. Michiel has published several popular science books on such different topics as the Babybrain, the Evolution of Religion, Ecstatic Experiences and Psychedelics.


I have a deep interest in altered states of consciousness (ASCs), as induced through meditation, sensory deprivation, psychedelics and other means. By using a variety of different techniques, including self-report measures, interviews, expectancy manipulations, neuroimaging tools, psychophysiological techniques and pharmacological challenges I aim to understand how ASCs come about, the effects they have on our behavior and well-being and the philosophical implications of ASCs for our views on the self and reality.


At Leiden University Michiel is involved in teaching courses on Consciousness, Individuals Groups & Urban Institutions, Evaluating an Empirical Study and other courses. Michiel supervises internships, bachelor and master projects on cognitive neuroscience related topics.


   • Interacting Minds Center, Arhus University Seed Grant 2020
   • NIAS Research Fellowship 2019
   • BIAL Research Grant, BIAL Foundation 2016
   • Templeton Foundation (The Religious Replication Project) 2017
   • Fulbright Senior Scholarship (Stanford University, USA) 2017
   • VENI Research Grant (NWO, Dutch Science Foundation) 2012
   • Vasco Sanz Research Award 2011
   • Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW; Conference Grant) 2010
   • Marie Curie International Fellowship (EU FP7 grant) 2010
   • Human Frontiers Science Program Short-

Supervised PhD Candidates

   PhD Co-supervisor Annemarie Foppen, VU University of Amsterdam 2018 - present
   PhD Co-supervisor Lara Engelbert, VU University of Amsterdam 2018-present
   PhD Thesis Supervisor Suzanne Hoogeveen, University of Amsterdam 2017 - present
   PhD Thesis Supervisor GertJan Munneke, University of Amsterdam 2016 - 2019
   PhD Thesis Supervisor David Maij, University of Amsterdam 2014 - 2018
   PhD Co-supervisor Tim Faber, University of Amsterdam 2013 - 2016
   PhD Co-supervisor Ali Sengül, EPFL, Switzerland 2010-2014

Relevante links

Associate Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Cognitieve Psychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 2B15



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