Keep an ear out for Elia Formisano

In Mind
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 08:37
By the time this interview with Italian-born Elia Formisano, extraordinary professor of Neural Signal Analysis, takes place, it has been raining for days. We start with the obvious: would he not rather live and work in his home country? But Formisano feels at home in Maastricht, and the reason why becomes clear soon enough. "This is what keeps us here", he laughs, pointing at the 9.4 Tesla scanner – an enormous machine that would not be out of place in a science-fiction movie. In real life, however, this machine helps scientific dreams come true.

Machines with meaning

In Mind
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 08:06

Fundamental and applied research, international study programmes and new insights into imaging technology with super advanced MRI scanners – this is Brains Unlimited in a nutshell. Along with a new incubator building and new housing for the research groups of the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, it is home to a first-rate scanning facility. The 9.4 Tesla MRI scanner is only the fourth of its kind worldwide, and opens up unlimited possibilities for researchers and entrepreneurs from all over the world. On 29 October HM The King Willem-Alexander will officially open Brains Unlimited. Maastricht University magazine interviews some of the brains behind the project.


Intellectually disabled, sexually active

In Mind
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 10:10
Large prints of 3D drawings of the human body, images of sexual abuse and photos of people masturbating – the sex education materials used for people with intellectual disabilities are neither underpinned by theory nor evaluated in terms of their effectiveness. What’s more, the target group is rarely involved in materials development, and care providers make insufficient use of the available materials. “Yet, sex education – preferably starting from a young age – can play a part in preventing or managing many of the sexual problems experienced by people with intellectual disabilities”, says PhD candidate Dilana Schaafsma.

“Fortunately, sheep don’t bark”

Thursday, 04 July 2013 07:48
Back home after his two-hour train commute, the first thing Johan Vlaeyen does is visit his sheep. “It helps me switch off and unwind”, says the professor of Behavioural Medicine at the universities of Maastricht and Leuven. His home in the Belgian countryside overlooks a pasture on which his flock of 18 Mergelland sheep graze.

Understanding the human brain

In Mind
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

"Our brain is a universe, and that universe I want to understand", says Rainer Goebel, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Maastricht Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. Recently, the chances of his dream coming true have significantly increased. The reason? A green light and hence a €500 million grant for the Human Brain Project, which was announced last January as one of only two Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship projects funded by the European Commission. The aim of the project is to unravel the secrets of the brain, and it is up to Goebel to represent Maastricht University in the endeavour.


In his inaugural lecture on 11 April, Philippe Delespaul will call for a more innovative and sustainable system of mental healthcare. With this lecture, entitled ‘Mental healthcare in the Netherlands: Back to square one?’ (Terug naar af met de GGZ?), Delespaul accepts the endowed chair ‘Innovations in Dutch mental healthcare’ at Maastricht University. Today’s economic crisis has left few areas unaffected, including the mental healthcare system (geestelijke gezondheidszorg, or GGZ). The focus in Delespaul’s research is how to use the limited financial resources in a better and more creative way.

“Preaching the Maastricht gospel”

In Money
Thursday, 28 February 2013 09:10
There was no need for a headhunter this time. Jan Kees Dunning read the ad in the newspaper and thought: “This job was made for me.” He applied for the position and, after eight rounds of interviews with the many stakeholders in the Maastricht Health Campus, was appointed as its new CEO on 1 February. As the Amsterdam native puts it, “They wanted someone from outside the region.” 

Writing with your brain

In Mind
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 14:58

Bettina Sorger developed a method at Maastricht University (UM) that allows people to convert their thoughts, letter by letter, into brain patterns that are measured by an MRI scanner, and then translated by analysis software back into letters. It was a scientific breakthrough – but it took two years to convince a leading scientific journal to publish it. The clinical testing phase is now underway.


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