People

Elkan Akyürek (Principal Investigator)

I obtained my PhD from Leiden University in the Netherlands, after which I continued my career as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, and subsequently at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich in Germany. I then returned to the Netherlands to take up a faculty position at the University of Groningen, where I have since pursued a research program in cognitive and perceptual neuroscience.

I am currently the Chair of the Department of Experimental Psychology. Finally, I also act as Academic Editor for PLOS ONE, and as a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.


Ahmet Altinok

Ahmet received his Bachelor degree in Counselling Psychology from Inonu University in Turkey in 2009, and subsequently obtained his Master degree from Anadolu University. He also worked there for five years as a member of the academic staff, working on research studies as well as practicing in the field. He has published a number of articles in scientific journals based on this work.

His evolving research interests have now led Ahmet into the field of cognitive psychology. Supported by a scholarship that enabled him to continue his doctoral studies abroad, he started his PhD project in Groningen. He focuses mainly on visual working memory and attention, and in particular on how these functions might be modulated, for instance through the effects of cocoa flavanols. He is furthermore interested in statistical methods, including structural equation modelling.


Gülşen Balta

Gülşen received her Bachelor degree in Psychology from Hacettepe University in Turkey in 2010. After completing her undergraduate studies she worked as a psychologist for a few years, in the Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal Hospital and the Kutahya Social Service and Children Protection Institution. She then continued to pursue a Master degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas in the United States, which she obtained in 2017. She has now started as a PhD student in Groningen.

Gülşen’s project is focused on adaptive perceptual representation. More specifically, she investigates top-down control of temporal integration and working memory consolidation, as a function of both momentary stimulus properties and learned perceptual regularities.


Yining Chen

Yining got a Master degree in Research Methods in Psychology from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, after having obtained a Bachelor degree in Psychology from Hubei University in China. Prior to coming to Groningen, she has worked as a research assistant at the Chinese Academy of Science, doing research on acoustics and speech.

Yining’s current primary interest is in visual selective attention, and the effects of memory-driven salience on behavioral performance and pupil dilation.


Joost de Jong

Joost has a Master degree from the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences Research School. In 2019, the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences funded the research project proposal that he drafted on the relationship between time perception and working memory. Under the co-supervision of Hedderik van Rijn, he has now joined my team.

Joost has an interest in the neural substrates underlying these processes, but in his first studies, he has started out by looking into perceptual- and memory-based biases on timing behavior, and has begun building a computational model of time perception in the Nengo framework.


Güven Kandemir

After various other academic pursuits in Germany and Turkey, Güven obtained his Bachelor degree in Psychology at the University of Groningen. Motivated by his interest in improving the integrity of science and society, in the beginning of 2016, Güven completed a Master degree in Social Psychology. In 2017 Güven obtained his second Master degree from the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences Research School and subsequently started working on his PhD project.

Güven is interested in the mechanisms of attention, working memory and learning. To date, Güven has investigated the influence of visually presented emotional content on working memory consolidation, tested ways to improve second language learning algorithms, and applied multivariate analyses of EEG to decode and compare sensory-specific working memory storage. In his current PhD project Güven investigates various aspects of working memory with both multivariate EEG analysis and behavioral measures.


Aytaç Karabay

Aytaç completed his Bachelor degree in Psychology at Ankara University in Turkey, in 2011. After working as a psychologist in special education and rehabilitation centers for a while, he earned a full scholarship to continue his studies to obtain a Master degree in Experimental Psychology at the City University of New York in the United States, in 2015.

Aytaç is interested in visual perception, specifically perceptual grouping, and in more cognitive processes such as temporal and spatial attention. In his PhD, he used behavioral tasks, such as rapid serial visual presentation and visual search, to study how task performance is affected by stimulus features, and how physiological effects due to the consumption of cocoa flavanols may alter perception and performance in these tasks. Now, as a postdoc in the ORA project, he is using multivariate pattern analysis methods to study working memory. More details can be found on his personal website.


Robbert van der Mijn

Robbert holds two Master degrees from the University of Groningen, in Psychology, and in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience (2016 and 2018, respectively). While also being a reserve officer for the Royal Dutch Airforce, he wrote his dissertation on temporal cognition, and studied how findings from laboratory-based tasks generalize to the ‘real world’, as well as StarCraft2.

He now joined the team as a postdoctoral researcher on a project funded by Politie en Wetenschap, in which he develops methods to use pupillometry and rapid serial visual presentation in concealed information tests. Read more about his research and interests at his personal website.


Shuyao Wang

Shuyao obtained her Master degree in the field of Biomedical Engineering from Beihang University in China in 2019. As an undergraduate student, she was the recipient of several awards for her scholarly performance. Funded by a Chinese Scholarship Council grant, she has now joined the lab as a PhD student.

Shuyao’s main research interests are the behavioral consequences as well as the neural correlates of visual selective attention and working memory.


Yuanyuan Weng

After Yuanyuan completed her Bachelor degree in 2018, she subsequently received her Master degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Southwest University (Chongqing, China) in 2021. Her undergraduate work focused on EEG measures of sleep in the context of aging. She has now joined the team as a PhD student funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council.

Her primary research interests are the neural underpinnings of working memory in the human brain. More specifically, using EEG, she is trying to characterize the use of activity-based and -silent mechanisms for encoding and maintenance in working memory, and assess their functional roles.


Sophia Wilhelm

Sophia received her Master degree in Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Groningen in 2021. As part of her research master, she investigated maintenance mechanisms of working memory for color by means of EEG, and also studied how sleep deprivation impairs the molecular mechanisms of long-term memory storage. She used these experiences to write a research proposal to study the interplay between sleep and working memory, which was funded by the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences.

Sophia is interested in the connection between working memory and sleep, and aims to investigate how sleep deprivation affects working memory at the behavioural level through studying the neural substrates underlying this interaction.