Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 4: Brain Networks and Neuronal Communication

Brain Rhythms

In daily life, we receive a continuous stream of information. This sensory input must be filtered, processed, integrated, stored and retrieved when relevant, while irrelevant or distracting input must be suppressed. Think for instance of biking down a busy street, paying attention to traffic around you while ignoring a barking dog on the sidewalk. The brain constantly makes decisions based on perceptual input; quickly weighing and processing information, resulting in goal-directed behaviour. This is a pretty impressive feat, requiring the coordination of multiple operations on a sub-millisecond time-scale. For instance, the environment must be sampled, and the right connections between brain areas must be established at the right moment. However, large gaps exist in our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying these dynamic interactions. The overall aim of our research program is to elucidate how the brain sets up the functional neural architecture involved in perceptual processing. Our working hypothesis is that neuronal oscillations play a critical role in controlling the flow of information through the brain, such that specific brain rhythms perform low-level mechanistic operations, forming the foundation for cognition. In this view, oscillations provide the scaffolding for information processing: selectively sampling sensory inputs, disengaging task-irrelevant areas, and temporarily connecting relevant nodes such that efficient and effective exchange of information can take place. We use a combination of MEG, ECoG, LFP & spike recordings, as well as psychophysics and computational modelling, to test these ideas at all critical levels.

Name: Saskia Haegens
Telephone: 024-3668236
Fax: 024-3610989
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Kapittelweg 29
654 KL Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address:

Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
P.O. Box 9101
6500 HB Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Key grants and prizes
  • VIDI (2018): Oscillatory building blocks underlying perception and cognition
  • VENI (2014):  Neuronal Dynamics of Anticipatory Attention
Key publications
  • Haegens, S & Zion-Golumbic, E. (2018) Rhythmic facilitation of sensory processing. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 86, 150-165.
  • Spitzer, B & Haegens, S. (2017) Beyond the status quo: a role for beta oscillations in endogenous content (re-)activation. eNeuro, 4(4), ENEURO.0170-17.2017
  • Haegens, S, Cousijn, H, Wallis, G, Harrison, PJ, & Nobre, AC. (2014) Inter- and intra-individual variability in alpha peak frequency. NeuroImage, 92, 46-55.
  • Haegens, S, Nácher, V, Luna, R, Romo, R, & Jensen, O. (2011) Alpha oscillations in the monkey sensorimotor network influence discrimination performance by rhythmical inhibition of neuronal spiking. PNAS, 108(48), 19377-19382.
  • Haegens, S, Nácher, V, Hernández, A, Luna, R, Jensen, O, & Romo, R. (2011) Beta oscillations in the monkey sensorimotor network reflect somatosensory decision making. PNAS, 108(26), 10708-10713.


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Theme 4:
Neural Computation and Neurotechnology

Research Group
Brain Rhythms

Principal Investigator
Saskia Haegens

Post Doctoral Researchers
Elie El Rassi
Hesham Elshafei

PhD Students
Ying (Joey) Zhou

Djamari Oetringer
Corinne Orlemann
Melanie Wiehe
Nele Ziegler