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The psychological construction of mental states: How the mind is realized by distributed networks in the brain


Psychology studies the mind by investigating the basic processes that underlie experiences such as ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’ and ‘perceiving’. The dominant approach presumes that these mental states can be distinguished into separate psychological processes (e.g. ‘cognition’, ‘emotion’, ‘perception’) supported by functionally specific areas in the brain. The present proposal takes an innovative stance on how the brain creates the mind by proposing that mental states are constructed out of a common set of basic psychological ingredients associated with distributed networks in the brain. We hypothesize that all mental states, including emotional states (e.g. anger or fear) and cognitive states (e.g. a state of concentration or an experience of beauty), are ‘constructed’ out of a pantry of basic ingredients. The present proposal will investigate how the brain realizes mental states in two imaging experiments. In the outgoing phase we will investigate the active brain networks that underlie the construction of mental states following the manipulation of interoceptive sensations. This phase will consist of a visit to the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory located at Northeastern University, Boston, United States. During this phase the applicant will receive excellent training in functional brain imaging techniques at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. The knowledge and experience that is obtained in this phase will be implemented in a second imaging experiment that will investigate the active brain networks that underlie the construction of mental states following the manipulation of exteroceptive sensations. This experiment will be executed at the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), The Netherlands. The present project will contribute to the ambitions of the UvA to become one of the leading imaging centers in Europe, and to the career goals of the applicant to become a successful neuroimaging scientist.

Field of science

  • /social sciences/psychology/psychotherapy
  • /social sciences/psychology/social psychology

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MC-IOF - International Outgoing Fellowships (IOF)


Spui 21
1012WX Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 192 471,40
Administrative Contact
Mark Rotteveel (Dr.)