Brain and Cognition (BRAIN) Research to understand the evolving and waning function of the healthy brain over a lifetime. We are the UMCG Research Institute for Neurosciences and Healthy Brain Ageing. Institute
Our perceptual, mental and cognitive abilities are what make us human. They determine how we perceive the world around us and how we interpret and interact with our physical and social environment.

In our institute, we conduct research to better understand our perception and mental functioning, and the brain as a whole, and to develop more effective treatments for today’s and tomorrow’s patients. Our care inspires our researchers and our research improves care.

  • We stimulate active collaborations between fundamental and clinical researchers and integrate different disciplines within neuroscience research.
  • We study mechanisms of brain disease and disease progression at the molecular and system level.
  • We unravel basic aspects of perception, mental wellbeing and brain functioning.
  • We translate our knowledge into innovative interventions.
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Our research improves diagnosis and treatment

A healthy brain and mind are key to a good quality of life. Unfortunately, this is not always given to all of us and sometimes requires treatment. However, treatment of specific brain disorders may vary from person to person, wherein the effectiveness of the treatment also varies from person to person.

By focusing on the mechanisms that lead to brain disorders and their progression, rather than on the specific diagnoses or syndromes, we will be able to design and implement innovative and more effective interventions for each individual patient.

To develop optimal treatments,

  • we stimulate collaboration between our fundamental, pre-clinical and clinical researchers within the UMCG, nationally and internationally;
  • we harbour state-of-the-art facilities and techniques, like our Cognitive Neuroscience Center (with 3 Tesla MR-scanner, PET, EEG, TMS equipment and data analysis facilities), ‘brain-on-a-chip’ technology and near-infrared spectroscopy;
  • we have access to multiple patient cohorts and the Lifelines cohort;
  • we are connected to our stakeholders.
  • We have state-of-the-art techniques such as organoid development, brain-on-a-chip, access to advanced genetic analysis techniques, such as UMIC/EM nanotomy, single cell nuclear RNA sequencing. We have also access to excellent neuroimaging facilities, with state-of-the-art MRI and PET equipment for brain research in laboratory animals as well as humans.

  • We have access to various patient populations for new studies, both in the UMCG and in the region (e.g. via RGOC, MS Center North Netherlands, Dutch Parkinson Cohort DUPARC, Punt voor Parkinson). Several cohort studies are ongoing to study different disorders, like psychosis or Parkinson’s disease.

  • We have annual meetings with stakeholders such as the Brain Foundation, ZonMW, and patient organizations such as Mind, Dutch Parkinson Association, Alzheimer Nederland. During these meetings, we exchange knowledge and listen to our stakeholders, which leads to a very fruitful dialogue.

  • The human mind is one of the greatest marvels in the universe. To explain the complexity of the human mind to everyone interested, we organize monthly ‘Marvelous Mind movies’. These movies feature aspects of the human mind or a specific brain disorder, introduced by a scientist specialized on the topic. We have also a podcast series 'De Bovenverdieping' to explain the complex universe of the brain.

    Marvelous Mind is a platform where we share our findings to the general public in collaboration with the Groninger Forum, Studium Generale, RTV Noord.


Management team

Iris Sommer (Director)
​​​​​​Joukje van der Naalt
Joke Spikman
Marie-José van Tol
Michiel Hooiveld (Staff advisor/general support)


Evelyn Kuiper-Drenth

Visiting address

Ant. Deusinglaan 1,
Building 3217 ('de Brug'), Room 7.21
9713 AV Groningen
The Netherlands