Dr. Sanne de Wit, Associate Professor
Sanne de Wit graduated from the University of Nijmegen in 2002, and then received a scholarship to obtain her PhD degree at the Dept. of Experimental Psychology of the University of Cambridge. Her PhD project was supervised by Prof. Anthony Dickinson and concerned the associative and neural mechanisms mediating goal-directed action, habits, and response conflict resolution. She then moved on to a postdoc position at the Dept. of Psychiatry (2006-2008) to collaborate with Prof. Paul Fletcher on the translation of animal models to human psychology and neuroimaging. Since 2008 she works at the University of Amsterdam and has extended her research to include the study of impulsive and compulsive behaviour; first as a postdoc in the lab of Prof. Richard Ridderinkhof at the Dept. of Developmental Psychology, and presently as an Associate Professor at the Dept. of Clinical Psychology. In 2014, she obtained a 5-year NWO VIDI grant to investigate the effect of cognitive planning on habit formation (‘Implementation intentions: can the brain strategically generate instant habits?’).
Next to her research, she teaches several courses at the UvA and supervises students on research projects. She is also a member of the Research Master Committee at UvA. She currently supervises the PhD project of Sarah Knot (NWO VIDI).
Her interests lie at the interface between associative learning theory, behavioural neuroscience, and clinical psychology. The overarching idea behind her research is that fundamental mechanisms of learning and motivation lie at the basis of decision-making and can give rise to adaptive as well as maladaptive behaviour. Conventional experimental paradigms that require participants to respond according to instructed stimulus-response mappings are not suitable for the study of incentive modulation of goal-directed action. To overcome this limitation, she develops experimental paradigms that are direct translations from animal models. She combines behavioural analyses with a neurobiological approach, using mainly functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to investigate the neural underpinnings of actions and habits. To investigate whether disruptions of fundamental learning and motivational mechanisms play a role in complex, clinical conditions, she currently collaborate with clinical experts in the setting of, for example: obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction and obesity.