Available research internships

There are usually plenty of opportunities at the HabitLab for students who are looking to gain experience in conducting research! We supervise Bachelor and Master theses of psychology and psychobiology students, as well as the ResearchMaster internship and thesis. During their projects, Master students are encouraged to actively take part in our weekly journal clubs. Of course it is also possible to gain research experience as a volunteer, or in the role of research assistant (for a modest financial recompensation). Below we have posted some advertisements for specific ongoing projects. However, there may be other opportunities as well, and you can always email Sanne de Wit s.dewit@uva.nl – for more information, or otherwise the researcher on one of the specific projects posted below. We ask that you include your CV.


Neural correlates of habitual ‘slips of action’ – we’re urgently looking for a thesis student!
Joint Supervision: Sanne de Wit and Poppy Watson; Begin: October/November 2016

We are looking for a research masters student to work on an fMRI project investigating the balance between habits and goal-directed action control in healthy individuals. A tendency to form strong habits fast may play an important role in the development of impulsive-compulsive behavior and the slips-of-action paradigm – in which participants attempt to suppress externally triggered learnt responses when the outcomes are suddenly no longer valuable – has been widely used to study habit tendencies. However, we still know relatively little about the neural basis of the competition between goal-directed and habitual control and the resultant slips of action. With the present project we would to establish the neural correlates of slips-of-action task performance in a small group of healthy participants.

The student should:

  • Have a background and interest in neuroimaging and fMRI analysis.
  • Have a good understanding of the slips-of-action paradigm and related literature.
  • Have completed the Neuroimaging 1 course (by the end of 2016).
  • Be willing to gain their MRI safety certification (October/November 2016).
  • Be available to scan participants in November 2016.

For more information, contact Poppy Watson: popwatson@hotmail.com


Stage of masterthese bij Healthyways (Dutch only)
Wil je graag ervaring opdoen in coaching voor je masterthese? Die kans bestaat nu binnen het Healthyways project aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam!
Voor dit onderzoek naar de effectiviteit van planningsstrategieën op leefstijlgewoontes, coachen wij met ons team gemotiveerde vrijwilligers die gezonder willen eten en/of meer willen sporten. Voor meer informatie, bezoek: www.healthyways.nl of neem contact op met Aukje Verhoeven, a.a.c.verhoeven@uva.nl.


The mechanism of habitual behavior
Habitual behavior plays an important role in our daily lives.  Habitual behavior was initially performed in order to achieve a specific goal, but has gradually shifted over time towards behavior that can be triggered automatically by the presence of cues in the environment. The aim of this research is to increase our understanding of the behavioral mechanism that underlies habitual behavior. We use computer tasks to investigate the gradual transition that takes place from goal directed behavior to habitual behavior and examine factors that differentiate habitual behavior from goal directed behavior. Please contact Sanne de Wit, s.dewit@uva.nl, for more information.


External stimulus control over food-seeking:
The aim of this project is to investigate the associative mechanisms that mediate external stimulus control over food-seeking and that may ultimately underlie obesity in an environment that constantly reminds one of available, palatable food. If you are interested in this topic, please contact Poppy Watson, popwatson@hotmail.com and Sanne de Wit, s.dewit@uva.nl.


Learned associations in creativity
This research focuses on a process hindering creativity, namely ‘fixation’, which is described as the experience of being overly focused on a single solution and blind to alternatives. The first aim of this research is to examine whether fixation results from strong learned associations interfering with the accessibility of alternatives, for example as a result from previous experiences or provided examples. Secondly, it is investigated whether this can be objectively measured using computerized tasks assessing cognitive associations between specific concepts.
If you are interested in this topic, please contact Aukje Verhoeven, a.a.c.verhoeven@uva.nl.