Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Stress Resilience and the Brain: STRAIN

Are you a first year bio/medical student at the Radboud University? We are looking for participants for our research study looking into the way the brain can predict real life stress reactivity during exam periods using fMRI brain imaging and physiological monitoring.

We have already shown with a small pilot sample that psychological stress measures do indeed increase during exam periods. This project is a larger study in which we will further examine these effects.

Who can participate?

First year medical and biomedical students at the Radboud University:

  • M/V
  • Dutch speaking
  • Aged 16 years or older
  • Right Handed
  • No history of mental illness
  • No contradictions to MRI
  • Smartphone with data connection

What does participation mean?

You will participate in two parts for this study, which entail Ecological Momentary Assessments (EMA), and MRI scans.


  • The EMA testing involves two identical weeks (7 days). One in a week prior to examination, and another scheduled outside exam periods.
  • You will wear a smartwatch that tracks physiological measurements (hear rate, temperature, movement, and skin conductance). This is to measure physiological stress.
  • You will also complete short 3 min surveys during this week delivered to your cell phone 6 times a day. These surveys measure psychological stress.


  • Two MRI sessions will take place.
  • You will be asked to be at the building 2 hours prior to the study for practice sessions.
  • Each session consists of two 45 minute runs with a short break in between.
  • You will perform 3 tasks during these MRI sessions.

Our team

  • Rayyan Toutounji (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)
  • Bob Kapteijns (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)
  • Margo Willems (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)
  • Eliana Vassena (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)
  • Martin Krentz (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)
  • Florian Krause (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)
  • Erno Hermans (Donders Institute, CNS, Radboudumc)


The study appointments take place at Kapittelweg 29 (Trigon), Nijmegen.

Contact and questions?

If you would like to know whether you are eligible for this research, you can contact:

STRAIN team at;

Bob Kapteijns, Research Assistant at;

Rayyan Toutounji, PhD student at