The main theme of my research has been performance monitoring and outcome evaluation: what happens in the brain when we make a mistake, and how does this affect subsequent behaviour? Do we learn from our mistakes? Can we pinpoint patterns of brain activity that predict whether we will or will not learn from our mistakes? I am also interested in how the social context influences how we evaluate our own behaviour: how is it different for you when I tell you that your decision resulted in failure, while your colleague’s decision also resulted in failure, compared to the situation where you have failed, but your colleague succeeded? Are there differences in how the brain processes these situations (in which your objective outcome is the same)? Does it matter if this colleague is your supervisor or your assistant (i.e. how does social status influence these processes)? How do social cues (for example others’ facial expressions) influence how you evaluate your performance? How do hormone-levels, such as oxytocin, testosterone and cortisol, influence how you evaluate actions, both your own and those of others?
Over the last several years I have also become interested in Neuroeconomics, Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing. My main current line of research in these fields focusses on two central questions: can we predict consumer behaviour from brain activity (and do such neural measures add anything to more traditional measures), and do brain measurements reveal additional evaluative information about marketing stimuli (commercials, advertisements), that cannot be obtained through traditional means? We find that it is indeed possible to predict consumer behaviour on the population level from brain data obtained from a limited number of students in our lab, and that these brain-measures increase predictive accuracy of commercial success compared with stated preference measures alone.
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