Welcome to my personal website. It is mainly a repository for my papers, but increasingly also for the data and code supporting these papers.

I have a broad interest in human behaviour and in how the brain orchestrates this behaviour. My research topics range from the neural mechanisms of performance monitoring to the effects of mental fatigue on cognition, to the effects of social status on behaviour, to the effects on hormones on decision-making, to whether we can use brain measurements from just a few individuals to say something about how the population at large will behave.

Over the last several years I have become interested in Neuroeconomics (the branch of neuroscience that studies decision-making), and what is now called Consumer Neuroscience (how knowledge of Neuroeconomics may tell us something about how groups of individuals may respond to persuasive messages and how this might affect their choice behaviour). My main lines of research in these fields focusses on two central questions: can we predict market behaviour from brain activity (and do such neural measures add anything to more traditional measures), and do brain measurements reveal additional evaluative information about stimuli (persuasive messages such as commercials), which cannot be obtained through self-report measures? We find that it is indeed possible to predict the behaviour of large numbers of individuals in the population from brain data obtained from a limited number of students in our lab, and that these brain measures increase accuracy of predicting both individual and population behaviour compared to self-report measures alone. Moreover, we find that, using multivariate approaches to analyses of fMRI and EEG data, it is possible to extract information from the brain that reveals which emotions were elicited by the stimulus, which mental representations were activated, and how these emotions and representations predict preference and choice, both at the individual level, as well as in the population at large.


Updated by Maarten Boksem on May 27, 2019 Comments (0)

From the Media

All in the mind?
Businesses spend considerable resources on crafting and broadcasting messages, but how much do we know has gotten into the consumer’s head, and how much has just flown past? Cue neuromarketing. Both an emerging field of academic research and a nascent industry, the goal of neuromarketing is simple: to gain marketing insight through the application of neuroscience. Instead of asking customers to tell us what they think, neuromarketers directly measure how their brains react. Paper
Brain scans reveal engagement levels of videos
When consumers are exposed to videos, they generally show some level of engagement. What if we could predict when consumers would strongly engage with such content by analysing the neural activity that takes place during subconscious processes in their brains? Businesses and other organisations could then optimise their video towards higher levels of engagement. Hang-Yee Chan recently published results that revealed it is possible to predict levels of consumer engagement with a video by showing it to a small group of viewers and measuring their brain responses. Paper
Tracking emotions real time in the brain
Emotions play a key role in our behaviour. Studies have shown that many of the decisions we make are driven by emotions. But measuring emotions has been proven difficult. PhD candidate Esther Eijlers, Dr Maarten Boksem and Prof. Ale Smidts of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) have developed a new method to measure and track emotions in the brain in real time with electroencephalography (EEG). For the first time, they can see, moment to moment, which emotions people experience when they watch something. Paper
Identifying strong brands in the brain.
Brand managers need to know how consumers perceive their brands. Do consumers actually have the ‘right’ associations with brands as intended by the companies? And are these associations consistent, or are they vastly different across consumers? Until recently, all that brand managers could do to find out, was to trust what consumers told them. But no longer. Researchers Hang-Yee Chan, Maarten Boksem and Ale Smidts from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), literally looked inside people’s heads and discovered that brand image and brand image strength are clearly visible in our brains. Paper
Brain scans reveal what makes a TV advert effective.
What is it about a TV advert that triggers people to find the product online? Scanning consumers’ brains has allowed Linda Couwenberg of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) to discover that a TV advert works best when it both highlights a product’s functional benefits and triggers the viewer’s imagination. This particular combination of elements activates specific parts of the viewer’s brain most intensely, she found, which makes the advert more effective. Paper
Can brain responses to movie trailers predict success?
Decades of research have shown that much of our mental processing occurs at the subconscious level, including the decisions we make as consumers. These subconscious processes explain why we so often fail to accurately predict our own future choices. Often what we "think" we want has little or no bearing on the choices we actually make. Now a new study provides the first evidence that brain measures "can" provide significant added value to models for predicting consumer choice. Paper

Updated by Maarten Boksem on July 18, 2019 Comments (0)