Research Talent – CRIMI has started

25 June 2013

‘Critical Minds’ (CRIMI) will use criticality theory and mental training to understand the dynamics of mind wandering in healthy subjects and patients with major depressive disorder. The PhD project is funded by a "Research Talent" grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (MaGW, NWO) to Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen (PI) and earmarked for Mona Irrmischer.

Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen is team leader of Neuronal Oscillations and Cognition at the Department of Integrative Neurophysiology. His research is focused on the complex dynamics of neuronal oscillations and its implications for cognition in health and disease. Theories and methods from the physics of self-organization and complexity is a source of inspiration in his multi-disciplinary research and also for the awarded project, which is entitled “Criticality theory applied to the “wandering mind‚ problem in health and major depressive disorder‚.

A balance between chaos and order
“Criticality‚ is a dynamical state, characterized by a balance between order and chaos, which allows for a large repertoire of activity patterns to emerge. Critical networks uniquely combine a high sensitivity to input with support for meta-stable states on many time scales. The human attention system operates in an intriguingly similar fashion, as the needs to switch or focus attention continuously change. “In this project, we hope to go a few steps further than a hand-waving analogy‚ Linkenkaer-Hansen explains.

Cum Laude
Research will be conducted by PhD student, Mona Irrmischer. She graduated Cum Laude from the Research Master ‘Cognitive Neuropsychology’ at the VU University Amsterdam in august, 2012.

Linkenkaer-Hansen: “I supervised Mona’s literature thesis, after which she asked if I would supervise her if she could find funding for a PhD project. This led to an interesting and intense period of stitching together Mona’s wishes with my experiences and pilot data for the grant proposal, which NWO rated as ‘excellent’. Of course it helped that Mona has an impressive CV and good connections to psychiatry and mindfulness researchers with whom we can collaborate‚.

The project also involves collaborators at the Radboud University Nijmegen, who will contribute expertise on depression (Prof. Anne Speckens, Dept. Psychiatry) and mindfulness training (Prof. Henk Barendregt and Dr. Poppy Schoenberg, Dept. Science). For more information please contact Klaus Linkenkaer-Hansen.