• “Learning to Synchronize” – new paper in PLoS Computational Biology

    Congrats to Pieter Verbeke et al for having their work accepted at PLoS Computational Biology!

    In their paper, they present a computational framework on how biological and artificial agents can address the trade-off between being sufficiently adaptive to acquiring novel information (plasticity) and retaining older information (stability); known as the stability-plasticity dilemma. For this purpose, they combined two prominent computational neuroscience principles, namely Binding by Synchrony (Fries, 2005, 2015) and Reinforcement Learning (Sutton & Barto, 1998). The model learns to couple/synchronize task-relevant modules, while also learning to decouple/desynchronize currently task-irrelevant modules. As a result, old (but currently task-irrelevant) information is protected from overwriting (stability) while new information can be learned quickly in currently task-relevant modules (plasticity). In order to test the generalizability of their framework, learning to synchronize was combined with task modules that learn via one of three classical learning algorithms, namely Rescorla-Wagner (Widrow & Hoff, 1960), backpropagation (Rummelhart, Hinton & Williams, 1986) and Restricted Boltzmann machines (Hinton, 2012). The resulting models were tested on a reversal learning paradigm where the models had to learn to switch between three different task rules. The authors demonstrated how combining learning to synchronize with several classic learning algorithms resulted in significant computational advantages over networks without synchrony, in terms of both stability and plasticity. Crucially, the resulting models’ processing dynamics are also consistent with empirical data and provide empirically testable hypotheses for future MEG/EEG studies.



  • FWO grants for Kate and Anna!

    Congratulations to Kate (renewal of her PhD grant) and Anna (post-doc grant) for obtaining grants from the FWO-Vlaanderen. On with the science!

  • “Preparing for hard times” – new paper in Psychophysiology

    Congrats to Esther Deloof et al. for their new publication in Psychophysiology titled ‘Preparing for hard times: scalp and intracranial physiological signatures of proactive cognitive control’. In this study, it is shown that a cue conveying difficulty information triggers proactive control in absence of motor preparation, and elucidates its neurophysiological signatures. Scalp and iEEG signatures are discussed. Once the paper is out, we’ll put a link here!

  • Welcome Jacki!

    As of May 6th, Jacki Janowich will be joining the Vergutslab as a post-doc. She will be working on the MEMODYN project. Very welcome Jacki!

  • “A neural marker of confidence predicts information seeking” – new paper in Journal of Neuroscience

    Congrats to Kobe et al. for getting their work accepted in The Journal of Neuroscience.
    In their paper, they examine whether neural markers of confidence are predictive of information seeking. To study this, they devised a paradigm in which participants had to make a choice about the average color of eight elements. Before making their final choice, however, participants could decide whether or not they wanted to pay a small cost to see the stimulus again in an easier version.

    Using multivariate decoding, the authors then trained a decoder at each point in time to predict based on EEG data whether a trial was judged with high or low confidence. Critically, it was then tested whether this decoder was able to classify whether participants wanted to sample more information or not. This was indeed possible in a time window following the initial speeded response. This time window corresponded to that of a previously established neural marker of confidence (Boldt & Yeung, 2015).

    In sum, this study shows that neural indices of confidence are functionally involved in information-seeking decisions. You can find the paper here!


  • “Context-dependent modulation of cognitive control” – new paper in NeuroImage!

    Congrats to Bart et al. for getting their work accepted at NeuroImage. In their paper, they address the context-dependent allocation of two prominent cognitive control modes: reactive and proactive control. They demonstrate that task-relevant areas such as intraparietal sulcus and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are more active on task trials in reactive than in proactive mode. Importantly, the same areas were more active between task trials (i.e., during the intertrial intervals) in proactive than in reactive mode. This implicates that reactive control involves a transient reactivation of task-relevant brain areas exactly when needed, and that proactive control is characterized by sustained activation of similar areas when control is required on a longer time scale.

    You can find the full paper here – or get into touch with Bart Aben!


  • Vergutslab is hiring!

    The Vergutslab has two open PhD positions, on “The role of confidence and urgency in deciding to stop sampling information” and “A model-based approach to study transfer in decision making and cognitive control“. All details can be found here.



  • Highlighted at Nat Hum Behav

    The Unfolding Action Model that Cris recently published in Psych Rev now features as a Research Highlight in Nature Human Behaviour. You can read the piece by Anne-Marike Schiffer here, and the paper itself can be found here!

  • “Oscillatory signatures of reward prediction errors in declarative learning” – New paper in NeuroImage

    Congrats to Kate and Esther et al. with their new paper that just got accepted in NeuroImage! In this work, they investigated the time course of neural oscillations in processing reward during declarative learning. Earlier research showed that signed reward prediction errors (SRPE’s; “better-than-expected” signals) drive declarative learning. In the current paper, the occurrence of reward prediction errors (RPEs) was further validated by oscillatory signatures in the theta, high-beta and high-alpha bands. The paper can be found here!

  • Pieter Huycke wins the Mensenkennis Trofee

    Our own Pieter Huycke has won the first Mensenkennis Trofee, for his article on the ideal pricing of a product. This award was created in order to stimulate students to communicate the results of their research to a general audience.

    You can read the article (written in Dutch) here.
    Congrats Pieter!