Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control

Cognitive Neuroecology Lab

Donders-ACTION-CONTROL-screen thema 2We aim to understand what it is that makes brains the way they are. Primates, and especially humans, have exceptionally large brains for their body size.

Between primates, brains differ in size and in their internal organization. Why is this? We believe that each brain is an adaptation to the particular environment its owner lives in. Differences between brains are the result of deviations from ancestral brains that arose to deal with challenges in the environment.

To study these questions we use two complementary approaches. First, we study how the human brain is organized and works using a range of non-invasive brain imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Second, we use magnetic resonance imaging to compare the organization of different brains. We scan the brains from deceased animals to study the size, location, and connections of different brain regions and compare these between species.

Name: Dr Rogier B. Mars
Telephone: 024-3616068
Fax: 024-3616041
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognition
Montessorilaan 3
6525 HR Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Donders Centre for Cognition
P.O. Box 9104
6500 HE Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Key grants and prizes
  • 2014: NWO VIDI grant 'Levels of social inference: Investigating the origin of human uniqueness' (Mars)
Key publications
  • Neubert FX, Mars RB, Thomas AG, Sallet J, & Rushworth MFS (2014) Comparison of human ventral frontal cortex areas for cognitive control and language with areas in monkey frontal cortex. Neuron 81:700-713 Full text
  • Mars RB*, Sallet J*, Neubert FX, & Rushworth MFS (2013) Connectivity profiles reveal the relationship between brain areas for social cognition in human and monkey temporoparietal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110:10806-10811 (* These authors contributed equally to this work) Full text
  • Sallet J*, Mars RB*, Noonan MP*, Andersson J, O'Reilly JX, Jbabdi S, Croxson PL, Miller KL, Jenkinson M, & Rushworth MFS (2011) Social network size affects neural circuits in macaques. Science 334:697-700 (* These authors contributed equally to this work) Full text
  • Mars RB, Jbabdi S, Sallet J, O'Reilly JX, Croxson PL, Olivier E, Noonan MP, Bergmann C, Mitchell AS, Baxter MG, Behrens TEJ, Johansen-Berg H, Tomassini V, Miller KL, & Rushworth MFS (2011) Diffusion-weighted imaging tractography-based parcellation of the human parietal cortex and comparison with human and macaque resting state functional connectivity. Journal of Neuroscience 31:4087-4100 Full text
  • Neubert FX*, Mars RB*, Buch ER, Olivier E, & Rushworth MFS (2010) Cortical and subcortical interactions during action reprogramming and their related white matter pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107:13240-13245 (* These authors contributed equally to this work)

Lab website:

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Research Theme 2:
Perception, Action and Decision-making

Research Group
Cognitive neuroecology lab

Principal Investigator
Dr. R.B. Mars

Group members

Dr. Mathias Schurz

Marius Braunsdorf
Guilherme Blazquez Freches
Francesco Poli