Ageing affects our brain. But how does the brain deal with these changes? “The better our understanding of the brain, the easier it will be to promote healthy ageing.
Ageing does not necessarily mean that cognitive functions, such as memory and attention, deteriorate. An MRI-scan of someone's brain may reveal that ageing affects the anatomical structure of the brain, but that does not tell you much about how different parts of the brain interact. It's the dynamics of those interactions that determine our behaviour, but these dynamics in the ageing brain are poorly understood.
In my research, I try to find an answer to the question how our brain compensates for changes that occur in our bodies as the result of ageing. The better our understanding of our behavior and underlying brain mechanisms, the easier it will be to promote healthy ageing for all of us.
Automaticity and addiction
My research focuses on mental habits (automatic processes) and addiction. Automatic attentional and behavioral responses are necessary to guide behavior towards natural rewards (good food, attractive mates). However, they may become strongly linked to cues of addiction and thus contribute to use that occurs despite a conscious desire to restrain.
My work examines the role of these automatic appetitive processes in failures to control addictive behavior. I also examine how mindfulness training may help to overcome such mental habits, thereby increasing self-control.
So far this study experience has given me a chance to realize my full academic potential, and has contributed to get a better understanding of myself
I come from China and I am enrolled in the master in Cognitive Psychology and Psychophysiology, because I am fascinated in this field.
After evaluating information about the environment, education equality, costs, and tuition fees in Groningen, together with additional information about the Netherlands from my parents, I decided to start studying at the RUG.
At the beginning of my study my daily life was full of trouble. Except for all the practical and logistical issues I had to solve as a new Groningen citizen, I also had problems to find the right study strategy. The education system in The Netherlands is really different compared with China.
Since I never feel ashamed to ask for help, I soon found out that the student service system in Groningen is well-organized, so that you can always get professional advice. Feeling supported and safe at the very start of my studies was crucial, and 3 months into the program I realized that I had made the right decision to come to Groningen. So far this study experience has given me a chance to realize my full academic potential, and has contributed to get a better understanding of myself.
The English master in Psychology program at the RUG is still work in progress. The distribution of courses throughout the year could be improved.
During my study I did a half year internship as a psychology teacher in a special secondary school. After finishing my master I am intending to go back to China maybe to become a teacher.
I have learned things which are totally different from what I learned before and that is quite challenging.
Interaction between individual, group and society
Man is by nature a remarkably social and co-operative entity. People not only feel comfortable in groups and social networks, together they construct whole societies. Such group processes create huge benefits for each individual. In spite of this, we increasingly see ourselves as unique and autonomous. Such interaction between individual, group and society is central to my research.