What motivates people to study and teach? Academic education contains many obvious and hidden incentives meant to deliver, obtain, and progress knowledge.

This means that the extent to which educational interaction is effective will also depend on individual differences in preference and interest, as well as individual differences in the brain’s reward systems. We argue that a better understanding of basic motivational mechanisms can inform optimal, and possibly tailored, educational design.

Our research interests include:

  • We study educational motivation in the realm of health professions education. Settings include curricular teaching as well as post-graduate training and simulation
  • We have a strong interest in:
    • game-based learning, gamification in particular;
    • motivational psychology and typology;
    • teacher motivation;
    • neurobiological underpinnings of motivated behaviors.
  • We (intend to) study (educational) motivation using/through:
    • qualitative methods;
    • mixed methods;
    • questionnaires;
    • EEG and fMRI;
    • e-learning and digital teaching applications.

Understanding motivation to bolster biomedical education

The quality of our health care strongly depends on the way we educate our health care professionals. We believe that a better understanding of how students and staff are motivated to study and teach will help improve educational design. In turn, we expect this to facilitate learning and teaching that is both more effective and more fun.

Research Interests

  • We use concepts from game design research to study motivational phenotypes in health professions education. For these studies we are using a mixed-methods approach.

  • As motivational mechanisms in the brain are common to all motivated behaviors, much can be learned from strong motivators like sexual stimuli. We use neuroimaging and experimental psychology methodology, as well as mixed methods approaches, to study how pleasurable feelings arise when people receive or seek stimulation. We believe that this connection between motivation and pleasure is what explains both functional and dysfunctional motivated behaviors, in sex and beyond.

  • The Section Anatomy & Medical Physiology has two high-end facilities - “Dissection Room Complex” and “Medical Physiology Teaching and Training Laboratory” - that are also suitable for research. We are mainly involved in collaborative research into clinical anatomy and exercise physiology.


Small profile photo of J.R. Georgiadis
Janniko Georgiadis Head of the Section Anatomy and Medical Physiology

Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen
Internal Zip code FB32
Antonius Deusinglaan 1
9700 AD Groningen 
The Netherlands

Visiting Address
Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen
Antonius Deusinglaan 1
9713 AV Groningen
The Netherlands