Researchers

Janna Cousijn (PhD), Founder, Principal Investigator

I am a scientist with an interdisciplinary background in neurobiology, medicine and psychology. Central to my studies is the search for neurocognitive predictors of adolescent onset psychopathologies like addiction. I thereby study the interaction between affective processes (reward, emotions) and cognitive control in the brain. I received my Doctorate Cum Laude for identifying predictors of cannabis dependence with a novel combination of neuroimaging techniques (structural MRI, functional MRI, connectivity analyses) and neuropsychological tasks applied to a large group of difficult to find cannabis users and closely matched controls. I currently am one of the leading neuroscientists investigating cannabis dependence, collaborating with various national and international Universities. After finishing by PhD, I was invited at the Brain and Development Lab Leiden University to work as a postdoc where I extended my knowledge on the study of typical and atypical brain development. In 2014 I moved to Utrecht University where I was responsible for theory development and neurocognitive task selection in a large-scale (6000 children) 10-year longitudinal neuroimaging study on brain development (NWO Zwaartekracht). Recently, I started as an assistant professor in Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam. In future projects I would like to study common and unique neurobiological mechanisms underlying highly comorbid disorders like addiction, depression and anxiety over the course of development.

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Publications


Gabry Mies (PhD), Post-doctoral researcher

I have a background in biology (Wageningen University, 2005), and currently work as a post-doctoral researcher at the department of Psychiatry of Amsterdam UMC – AMC, and as a teacher at the department of Developmental Psychology. My main research aim is to gain a better understanding of the interactions between neurobiological, psychological, genetic and environmental factors involved in complex behavioral traits and in susceptibility to psychiatric disorders. Together with Dr. Janna Cousijn I currently investigate adolescent resilience to alcohol use disorders. In this project, funded by Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC), and in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), adults and adolescents are compared on their neural responses to alcohol cues. My previous post-doctoral work at Radboud University and KU Leuven focused on impulsivity, reward sensitivity and mental effort in adolescents with ADHD, using behavioral and psychophysiological measures (fMRI, pupillometry). I obtained my PhD in 2011 at the department of Psychiatry of the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, where I studied performance monitoring in depression, focusing on behavioral and psychophysiological indices of feedback processing (fMRI, ERPs, heart rate).

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Publications


Maik Derksen, Post-doctoral researcher

Since my Master’s in Biological Psychology and subsequent position as a research assistant at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, I have been specializing in pre-clinical research. In 2012, I moved to Amsterdam to start my PhD, working on compulsivity and addiction related research at the department of Psychiatry at the Amsterdam UMC (location AMC). I have looked at the effects of deep brain stimulation on activation in the rodent brain, and the effects of MDMA-use on the serotonergic system using MRI techniques. During this period, I have developed a keen interest in the mechanisms behind addiction, compulsivity and possible treatments, as well as a fascination with MRI as a research tool. My personal goal in research would be to optimally use the broad possibilities MRI has to offer in researching neurological disorders. With Dr. Janna Cousijn, I am looking into the effects of high alcohol intake on neuronal activation in rodents of different ages. By comparing brain activation in response to alcohol cues between adolescent and adult rodents, we aim to investigate adolescent resilience to alcohol use disorders.


Lauren Kuhns (MSc), PhD student

After graduating from Yale University in 2014 with a BA in Psychology (with distinction), I worked as a Research Associate in organizational behavior at Harvard Business School for a year before moving to the Netherlands to do the Research Master Psychology program at the University of Amsterdam. During this program, I developed my interest in addiction research and conducted studies on habit formation and craving. I am mainly interested in the how social processes influence addictive behavior on an individual and cultural level, and what these social processes can tell us about the mechanisms of addiction. 

My PhD project focuses on clarifying the motivational neuromechanisms underlying cannabis dependence and investigating the potential moderators of these mechanisms (e.g. culture, age, tobacco use). To fulfill these aims, I am conducting a cross-cultural longitudinal neuroimaging study with cannabis dependent individuals and non-using matched controls in collaboration with the University of Texas-Dallas. I work under the supervision of Reinout Wiers, Janna Cousijn, and Francesca Filbey. 

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Publications


Emese Kroon (MSc), PhD student

After completing a psychobiology bachelor and psychology research master at the University of Amsterdam, I started my PhD-project at the ADAPT lab in September 2018, under the supervision of Janna Cousijn and Reinout Wiers. My project is part of a study on cross-cultural neuroimaging of cannabis dependence. Within this project, I focus of the role of behavioural control cannabis use. By assessing the differences between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ behavioural control in ‘heavy’ vs. ‘dependent’ users on both the brain and behavioural level, I hope to get more insight into the role of behavioural control in cannabis use disorder while also assessing the utility of several tasks commonly used to measure behavioural control in addiction.

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Publications


Nora Runia (MSc), Research Assistant

After obtaining a bachelor in psychobiology and a research master in cognitive neuroscience, I joined the lab as a research assistant in September 2018. I started assisting with the Coffeeshop Study and in January 2019 I also started working on the Paradox Study. I assist with all aspects of conducting a study, including recruitment of participants, testing participants (including collecting fMRI data), and data management. I am very interested in the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of psychopathology, and the development of innovative interventions for these psychopathologies.  

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Sharon Sznitman (PhD), Visiting Researcher

Dr. Sznitman received her B.A. in sociology from the University of Manchester and her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Stockholm University.  She then completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Annenberg Public Policy Centre at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010 Dr. Sznitman joined the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa where she is a senior lecturer. She is currently doing a sabbatical at NOFA lab.

Research

Dr. Sznitman’s most recent research mainly focuses on medical cannabis use and policies in Israel and in cross-national contexts. Her research focuses on how both medical and recreational users use cannabis to ease mental and physical pain. Her research also focuses on reaching a better understanding for how public attitudes influence medical cannabis policy development and implementation in Israel and abroad, and in turn how medical cannabis policies (mainly through the media) influences the general population and its attitudes not only to medical cannabis but also recreational cannabis use. Medical cannabis policies are developing rapidly in many jurisdictions across the world, with implications for public health, business and policy. Dr. Sznitman’s research provides an important platform from which these expected effects can be determined and how societies may best respond.

Publications