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Rubicon for cognitive neuroscientist Evert Boonstra

11 April 2023
Cognitive neuroscientist Evert Boonstra of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is the recipient of a Rubicon funding from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). With this grant, Boonstra will spend 24 months doing research at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Boonstra will use the funding to research the relationship between virtual living systems and the human brain. Biological systems sustain themselves by embodying their environment. This can be captured in a mathematical model that must constantly tune itself to the environment. Boonstra investigates how a virtual biological system does this in comparison to humans, laying a new foundation for research into psychiatric disorders.

In the coming period, Boonstra will turn his focus to the scientific understanding of the human brain. Led by University of Cape Town Professor of Neuroscience Mark Solms, a team of mathematicians, roboticists, psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists is working. Boonstra joins this team as a cognitive neuroscientist to bridge the gap between the more mathematical and computer science work on the one hand, and his experimental-neuroscience work on the other.

Promoted on 22 March 2023
Boonstra has researched the role of deep brain structures in conscious perception, both in healthy people and in people with mental disorders. He combined experimental cognitive-neuroscience research with philosophical research. It is this combination that he intends to continue with the Rubicon grant. Solms' work fits well with Boonstra's PhD research both in terms of content and this combination.

Boonstra: "I hope that in the next two years we will not only make an important empirical contribution to our scientific understanding of the human brain, but also that we will have thoroughly questioned the basis of our research field. Of course, there are all sorts of things to arrange first to get a visa and registration with the University of Cape Town in order. I hope to have started the actual research in a month or two."

Rubicon programme
16 recently promoted researchers will conduct research at foreign research institutions with a Rubicon funding from NWO. Rubicon funding allows scientists to spend up to 24 months doing research at a foreign research institution. The Rubicon programme aims to give young, promising scientists the opportunity to gain international research experience