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The ABC poster award is aimed at stimulating ABC students to present and discuss the results obtained during their internships done at different ABC locations. The best poster presented at the ABC Brain day is selected by a selection committee.

Suzanne Hoogeveen, abc poster prize 2017 awardee
Suzanne Hoogeveen

This year, the poster award committee was formed by a group of 7 PhD/Postdoc researchers who have previously won ABC grants, aimed at promoting innovative and excellent research in the area of brain and cognitive sciences. In this way we wanted to stimulate a fluid exchange of ideas between young members of the Brain and Cognition research priority program.
The poster award committee unanimously chose as  winner the poster entitled "Did I do that? Expectancy effects of transcranial stimulation on error-related negativity and the sense of agency” by  Suzanne Hoogeveen.

About the project:

Did I do that? Expectancy effects of transcranial stimulation on error-related negativity and the sense of agency

Transcranial stimulation as a tool for cognitive enhancement is a booming topic, and many consumers show a remarkable belief in this technique to boost their cognitive performance. However, scientists are raising doubts on the efficacy of brain stimulation devices, suggesting that expectancies may explain much of the reported effects, akin to well-documented placebo responses in other research areas.

In our study, we looked at the effect of expectations about transcranial stimulation on the sense of agency (i.e., whether participants attributed performance errors to oneself or the brain stimulation device) and the error-related negativity (i.e., ERN; an ERP signal reflecting prediction errors).  We found that expected improvement increased the ERN in response to errors compared to both impairment and control conditions. Expected impairment made participants falsely attribute errors to the transcranial stimulation. This decrease in sense of agency was correlated with a reduced ERN amplitude. These results show that expectations about transcranial stimulation impact users’ neural response to self-generated errors and sense of agency.

More broadly speaking, the findings highlight ethical considerations for brain stimulation devices: people seem to falsely blame negative outcomes of actions on the brain stimulation if they believe that it is calibrated to impair cognition, while expected performance enhancement appears to cause distress when the device fails to make its promises come true.

About Suzanne:

After her bachelor in psychology at the University of Utrecht, Suzanne Hoogeveen started the research master Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the UvA. During her research internship at the social psychology department of the UvA, she combined her interest in human cognition with neuroscientific methods, and studied the fascinating ‘power of belief’.

ABC poster prize awardee Suzanne Hoogeveen
Suzanne Hoogeveen @abc Brain Day 2017