Brain Rhythms

The research group Brain Rhythms investigates how the brain sets up the functional neural architecture involved in perceptual processing. The group is part of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.

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.

This research group is part of Theme 2: Perception, Action and Decision-making

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.


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

Contact information

Postal address
Postbus 9101