What is CogniTalks?

Millions of euros of public funding go into exploring the great frontier of cognition, yet most scientists never translate their research to the society that has made their work possible. 

CogniTalks is built on the notion that scientists must do better in communicating their groundbreaking research to society. For this reason, once a year we invite some of the most exciting and inspiring cognitive (neuro)scientists to share their latest research with the general public in bite sized 20 minutes presentations.


After last year’s online edition, CogniTalks 2022 made its way back as an in person event! Previous events were a big success, and we happily look back on the fifth edition of CogniTalks, which was held on Tuesday, April 5th at the Pakhuis de Zwijger. And as every year, the event was free of charge and we welcomed everyone, scientist or not!

Several outstanding cognitive (neuro)-scientists shared their most recent, inspiring and relevant research in short talks of 15 min. After the talks, visitors had the chance to ask questions to the speakers to discuss their ideas afterwards at the bar of Pakhuis de Zwijger.

This year’s four special speakers were:

1. Johan J. Bolhuis (Utrecht University – Department of Psychology)

2. Michael D. Nunez (University of Amsterdam – Amsterdam Mathematical Psychology Laboratory)

3. Tieme W. P. Janssen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – Lab of Learning)

4. Sabine Spijker (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – Amsterdam Neuroscience)

Read more about the speakers and their talks below!

Dr. Tieme Janssen is an assistant professor at the department of Clinical, Neuro- and Developmental psychology at the VU. His research covers cognitive neuroscience in healthy and clinical populations (e.g. ADHD) and neuroscience-based interventions (e.g. neurofeedback). He is motivated to translate neuroscience to applications outside the lab, using mobile neuroscience technology. Topics of study include motivational beliefs and self-regulation.

Johan J. Bolhuis is full professor of Cognitive Neurobiology at Utrecht University. He obtained his PhD in Zoology (cum laude) at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, UK. He was Associate Professor at the Institute of Biology at Leiden University. He was appointed full professor at Utrecht University in 2001, the same year that he received the Dutch Zoology Prize. In addition, he is an Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, as well as Honorary Fellow of St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge. He has published numerous papers and 10 books on learning, memory, development and language. 

Dr. Michael Nunez is a Cognitive Neuroscientist who uses mathematical modeling to understand the brain and mind. Specifically he seeks understand human decision making and cognitive differences across individuals. He also develops new modeling techniques that better test theories with real data. He works as an Assistant Professor in the Psychological Methods group at the University of Amsterdam and is a member of the Amsterdam Mathematical Psychology Laboratory.

Prof. dr. Sabine Spijker:. “I studied Biology at the VU, with a specialization in Neurobiology. The internships I carried out back then formed the basis of my PhD research into structure-function relationships of enzymes involved in hormone synthesis in the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. This particularly shaped my molecular interest, which I took along during the rest of my career. After I obtained my PhD (1999), I started researching the genomic effects of addictive substances in a mouse model in France where I acquainted myself with behavioral Neuroscience. Then I returned to the VU to set up my own team. In the years since, I have expanded research into revealing basic mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and its dysfunction in an array of animal models of human psychiatric disorders. During the last decade, I specifically investigated disorders in which aspects of learning and memory are affected. Thereto, I use quantitative proteomics-technology as entry-point into mechanistic dissection, and used various types of intervention tools (peptide mimetics, viral expression) to demonstrate causality.
In the VU curriculum, you come across me during the first year Biomedical Sciences, where I teach Human Development. Furthermore, I give guest lectures (psychiatric disease, human development) in other BSc majors, as well as lecturing on my own research in the Neuroscience Master.”