Prof. Dr. Emilie A. Caspar – Lab’s leader
I am an Associate Professor at Ghent University (Belgium). After a master degree in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology and a certificate in forensic sciences and psychiatry, I realized a PhD in social and cognitive neurosciences at the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) with Axel Cleeremans. I stayed at University College London (UK) during one year and a half in the lab of Patrick Haggard and I obtained a Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship to realize a 2-years postdoc at the Netherlands Institute for Neurosciences (NL) with Christian Keysers and Valeria Gazzola.
I developed my main expertise on themes related to obedience to authority: How obedience to an authority changes individual cognition? Why obeying orders impacts moral behaviors? What neuro-cognitive mechanisms play a role in preventing individuals from complying with immoral orders? When approaching those themes, I started working with NGO and non-academics institutions and I started to understand that restricting myself to the WEIRDs will not give me a global overview of the societal impact of my research. I thus started to initiate scientific projects in countries and populations that are never or barely not approached by neuroscientists, such as inmates, military or perpetrators and survivors of a genocide.
I also work as a scientific consultant to offer my expertise in behavioral neuroscience for humanitarian and societal projects (Be Brain Consultancy). I use methods from psychology and neuroscience in order to develop efficient tools to prevent blind obedience and promote peace-building.
Contact: Emilie.Caspar@Ugent.be / Twitter: @CasparEmilie
Leslie Tricoche, Postdoctoral researcher
I was graduated from the master of Neurosciences at the University of Lyon (France) in 2018. Then, I obtained a funding by the University of Lyon to realize a PhD in social neurosciences and cognition at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (CRNL – Impact team) that was supervised by Dr Denis Pélisson and Dr Martine Meunier. The aim of my phD project was to identify the neural signature of the Social facilitation/inhibition phenomenon and its developmental trajectory by conducting fMRI studies in adults and 10-13 years old children.
By joining Prof. Emilie Caspar’s team for a postdoctoral position, I will continue to investigate the influence of others on our behavior, decision-making, and subjacent brain networks’ activity. Using fMRI, I will particularly focus on military population and the modulation of moral decision-making according to received orders.
Elodie Kox, Ph.D. student
After my law studies, I worked as a lawyer at the Brussels Bar for several years. Interested in the creations of the mind and in human cognition in general, I have always been interested in understanding human behaviors and interactions better and thus, in parallel to my work, I started a new degree in psychology.
My research focuses on the influence of prison on individuals (inmates and prison guards). More specifically, the main aim of my PhD is to investigate the potential influence of restrictions in the possibilities of choice of action arising from the coercive nature of prison on two specific cognitive processes related to decision-making: The sense of agency and empathy for pain.
Tilia Linthout, Ph.D. Student
In 2022, I completed my master’s in theoretical and experimental psychology at Ghent University (Belgium). During my master’s I realized that I want to do research where I can help improve, change, and impact societally relevant problems. Luckily, I came in touch with two professors who share the same vision and I am now a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Pieter Van Dessel (LIP Lab) and Prof Dr. Emilie Caspar.
During this Ph.D., we will focus on the development of new interventions to help solve current problems related to the prison environment and the prisoners’ behavior. More broadly, my research will also involve other kinds of societally relevant behavior and how these can be modulated.
Contact: Tilia.Linthout@Ugent.be/ Twitter: @LinthoutTilia
Victoria Rambaud, Ph.D. student
In 2022, I graduated with a master’s degree in Brain and Mind Sciences, from University College London (UCL) in collaboration with La Sorbonne and Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris. As a student, I aspired to uncover the cognitive processes that underly decision-making in a social environment. In addition, I always hoped to work in an interdisciplinary research environment, where I could investigate the impact of society and political decisions on the human brain. Happily, I met Prof. Emilie Caspar, with whom I shared my perspective and research interests.
As a PhD student at the Moral & Social Brain Lab, my research focuses on the long-term impact of incarceration on cognitive processes. More specifically, it is an interdisciplinary neuro-criminological study, co-supervised by Prof. Tom Vander Beken (CESSMIR, Ghent University), investigating the neuronal correlates of executive functions implicated in social behaviors in a population of inmates. We hope to find in this longitudinal study that the perceived quality of life and degree of freedom in prison relates with the degree of self-control amongst inmates.
Ilke Veeckman, Ph.D. student
After finishing my Master’s in Criminology at Ghent University I decided to deepen my interests in research and forensic psychology and pursue a postgraduate degree in Investigative and Legal Psychology at UNICRI (Turin), in collaboration with Åbo Akademi (Turku). With a mostly theoretical background, I focused on gaining practical experience and started working in forensic psychiatric institutions in Belgium and the Netherlands, nevertheless keeping a strong focus on research, by combining my employment with a Master’s in Sociology (University of Antwerp) and a part-time research function.
This lead to my current position as a PhD researcher under the co-supervision of Prof. Dr. Emilie A. Caspar of the Moral and Social Brain Lab, and Prof. Dr. Tom Vander Beken and Dr. Louis Favril of the Department of Criminology, Criminal Law and Social Law. Together with Victoria Rambaud, we will perform a neuro-criminological study, assessing the impact of prison environment on inmates’ self-control, during and after detention, and describing the way different prison regimes, trajectories and release relate to changes in self-control. The project’s interdisciplinary nature allows for a combination of the methodological strengths and focus of neuroscience and criminology.
Guillaume Pech, Ph.D. student
I graduated from the master in cognitive sciences at the University of Lyon Lumière 2 (France) in 2021. Then, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant during 8 months at the Université Libre de Bruxelles with Prof. Emilie CASPAR (M&SB lab). We conducted projects investigating several processes related to decision-making, such as the sense of agency, empathy for pain and cognitive conflict using EEG. We approached rare populations such as inmates, military, and former perpetrators and survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. In 2022, I had the honor to receive a 6-month predoctoral fellowship offered by the Neurophilosophy of Free Will for the project ‘Does the Readiness Potential reflect action initiation or uncertainty?’.
I am now a PhD student under the supervision of Pr. Axel CLEEREMANS (CO3) and Pr. Uri MAOZ (Brain Institute). My research focuses on the neural markers of volition, with a specific interest in the Readiness Potential. In a broader sense, my topic of interest is to investigate how to model decision-making and how these findings can feed the debate on free-will. I also plan to collaborate with the M&SB lab for projects involving social and moral decision-making.