Dr E. Vassena (Eliana)
Assistant professor - Clinical Psychology
Assistant professor - Behavioural Science Institute
Thomas van Aquinostraat 4
6525 GD NIJMEGEN
6500 HE NIJMEGEN
My work combines neuroscience with computational psychiatry to study the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.
I'm a neuroscientist with a clinical background, interested in how the brain guides motivated effortful behaviour, decides which actions are worth pursuing, and boosts behaviour towards success. These mechanisms are impaired in psychiatric disorders (such as depression) and sub-clinical conditions (such as burnout). I study how alteration of brain circuits driving motivation and effort leads to pathology. I use functional MRI, computational modelling and Artificial Intelligence approaches, experimental measures of behaviour, physiology, neurostimulation, and pharmacology.
I am a member of the https://www.winrepo.org/ initiative, to improve gender balance at conferences, and a member of the Donders Diversity and Sustainable science initiative. I am engaged in outreach through several online platforms and as editor in chief of https://it.in-mind.org/.
- Vassena, E., Deraeve, J. & Alexander, W. (2020). Surprise, value and control in anterior cingulate cortex during speeded decision-making. Nature Human Behaviour, 4 (4), 412-422 Full text
- Otto, A.R. & Vassena, E. (2021). It's all relative: Reward-induced cognitive control modulation depends on context. Journal of Experimental Psychology - General, 150 (2), 306-313. Full text
- Brolsma, S.C.A., Vassena, E., Vrijsen, J.N., Sescousse, G.T., Collard, R.M., Eijndhoven, P.F. van, Schene, A.H. & Cools, R. (2021). Negative learning bias in depression revisited: Enhanced neural response to surprising reward across psychiatric disorders. Biological Psychiatry : Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 6 (3), 280-289. Full text
- Vassena, E., Holroyd, C.B. & Alexander, W.H. (2017). Computational models of anterior cingulate cortex: At the crossroads between prediction and effort. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 11:316. Full text
Research grants and prizes
- 2016 - Marie Curie Fellowship>
- The effect of stress on motivation and effort-based decision-making: behavioural, computational and neural dynamics. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Erno Hermans and the Cognitive Affective Behavioral Neuroscience lab of the Donders Institute / Radboudumc (https://cognitiveaffectiveneurosciencelab.nl/).
- Meta-learning as the key neurocomputational mechanism underlying motivated behaviour. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Massimo Silvetti and the Computational and Translational Neuroscience lab (https://ctnlab.it/) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR).
- Understanding motivational impairments in psychopathology to develop novel interventions. This project is embedded within the Experimental Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience (https://www.epanlab.nl/) lab led by Prof. Karin Roelofs.
- Establishing motivation as a transdiagnostic index of vulnerability. This project is embedded within the Experimental Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience (https://www.epanlab.nl/) lab led by Prof. Karin Roelofs and the CogPT lab led by Prof. Eni Becker.
- Hierarchical interactions of prefrontal cortex regions in prediction and motivation. This project is a collaboration with Dr. René Scheeringa and Prof. Roshan Cools (Donders Institute) and Dr. William Alexander (Florida Atlantic University).