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Brain & BehaviouR InterDisciplinary rEsearch

Final Report Summary - BRIDGE (Brain & BehaviouR InterDisciplinary rEsearch)

The programme BRIDGE (Brain & BehaviouR InterDisciplinary rEsearch in Geneva) has been run over 5 years by the Brain & Behaviour Laboratory (BBL, at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), a multidisciplinary research platform jointly managed by two different institutions within UNIGE: the Interfaculty Neuroscience Center (CIN) & the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences (CISA).
Fellowships were offered on a competitive manner with a two-step selection process, based on the past track record of applicant and innovative potential of their research project at the BBL (incoming or returning awards) or at other university sites in collaboration with the BBL (outgoing awards). Fellowships allowed postdoc researchers to conduct their research for 1 or 2 years and to gain new expertise in brain and behavioural sciences, bridging different disciplines and methodologies.

Due to this position at the border across different institutions, the BBL incorporates a unique combination of tools and knowledge, which goes beyond traditional boundaries of a single discipline, since the convergence of CISA, CIN, CIBM brings together scholars from psychology, medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, arts, etc. This convergence also goes beyond the limits of a single methodology, allowing fellows to learn and use various approaches to conduct their project, including neuroimaging (fMRI, sMRI, DTI, EEG), behavioural tests, psychophysics, physiology, virtual reality, etc.

Over the course of 3 calls for applications (published in January 2011, 2012, and 2013), the programme received more than 230 applications and awarded 31 fellowships to researchers from 12 different countries. Two fellows finally declined the award and one interrupted it after a few months, always for personal/familial reasons unrelated to the programme. Two candidates were awarded two fellowships on different rounds (Malsert: outgoing, then returning fellowship; Vaessen: incoming, then returning after 1 year in a different institution).

The research projects supported by these fellowships addressed various aspects of human brain and mind, such as emotion regulation, emotion perception, social communication rules, humour, motor expressions of affect, anger and pro-social behaviour, decision making, self-regulation of brain activity by neurofeedback, or consciousness – among others. This work is not only highly original and multidisciplinary but also more generally contributes to European innovation and competitiveness, with significant impact at three different levels:

1) fundamental level: bringing new insights on human nature and societies
2) clinical level: novel approaches to diagnoses, assessment, and treatment of disorders
3) practical / societal level: applied perspectives for industry, national and international organizations, education, art schools, humanities (literature, cinema). For instance, research team at the BBL and BRIDGE fellows are involved in projects with companies developing new fragrance or serious games, institutions promoting human rights and conflict resolution, as well as governmental or regional bodies in charge of public affairs.