Dean's Master Class: 'The Brain'

May 11 (Thursday) 2017

Event information

Type: Master Class

Date: May 11 (Thursday) 2017

Time: 12.15 - 17.00


  • Erasmus University College (EUC), Erasmus Hall
  • Nieuwemarkt 1A, 3011 HP Rotterdam (directions)

Contact: Menno Verbeek (enrolment-related questions)

Telephone: +31 (0)10 40 82607

The upcoming edition of the Dean's Master Class will focus on the research theme 'The Brain'. Graduate School Dean Professor Liesbet van Zoonen has again chosen a theme which cuts across disciplines and asked three distinguished scholars, from three academic fields, to present their research on the theme. The speakers and their respective disciplines are:

  • Professor Ingmar Franken (Psychology)
  • Professor Heleen Pott (Philosophy)
  • Professor Ale Smidts (Marketing Management)

The master class is a highly interactive event, consisting of a combination of presentations, discussions and assignments. During the afternoon, PhD candidates will work in groups towards presenting a draft research proposal on 'The Brain'. The best proposal will be awarded 'The Dame'; the Dean’s Award for Multidisciplinary Excellence.

The Dean’s Award for Multidisciplinary Excellence was awarded to Taslim Alade (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, IHS), Erida Curraj (Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, IHS) and James Grayot (Philosophy).

Enrolment form
Deadline for enrolment is May 4 (Thursday) 2017
Go to form


  • 12.15 – 12.45 walk-in lunch (lobby, ground floor)
  • 12.45 – 13.00 opening (Erasmus Hall)
  • 13.00 – 14.00 presentations
  • 14.00 – 15.00 speeddating with the speakers
    Q&A session in groups
  • 15.00 – 16.30 ideas factory
    Participants, (first individually, then in groups) work on ideas for a research proposal
  • 16.30 – 17.00 presentations research proposals
    Two members of each group presents the proposal to be reviewed by the speakers. The best proposals will be awarded the 'Dean's Award for Multidisciplinary Excellence' (DAME).
  • > 17.00 drinks (lobby, ground floor)

Read the retrospective of the first master class for a further impression of the afternoon’s set-up.


Dean's Master Class: 'The Brain'

Professor Ingmar Franken

Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences (DPECS)

Ingmar Franken (1970) is Chair of the Clinical Psychology section within the Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and is additionally affiliated with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of the Erasmus Medical Centre. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles, presented at several prestigious national and international scientific meetings and has successfully secured government and private organization funds for supporting his research. He has executed several prominent editorial, peer-reviewing, management and teaching responsibilities throughout these years.

Ttitle presentation: "Looking in the brain to predict who will develop psychological problems"
In this presentation I will discuss some recent research findings which show that it is possible to predicts future harmful behaviors (such as drug use) and psychological problems. In addition, some new research plans in this area will be discussed. Although the studies show that this is feasible, new questions arise. One of these questions is whether it is desirable to predict future behavior with brain scans, and would could be the social consequences of this.

Required reading:

  • Marhe, R, van de Wetering, B.J.M, & Franken, I.H.A. (2013). Error-Related Brain Activity Predicts Cocaine Use After Treatment at 3-Month Follow-up. Biological Psychiatry, 73(8), 782–788. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.12.016
    Available online
  • Mudde, T (2012). In het kinderbrein turen als in een glazen bol. De Volkskrant (Februari 12), 6-7.
    Available online (Dutch article)

Professor Heleen Pott

Faculty of Philosophy (FW)

Heleen Pott is a philosopher and currently Socrates-professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam. She lectured at the universities of Amsterdam, Maastricht, Haifa, Prague, and Pilsen, and was a fellow at NIAS. Her research areas are philosophy of mind and philosophical anthropology, especially emotions, self-consciousness, and the embodied mind. She published books and articles on a broad spectrum of topics, including Schopenhauer’s pessimism, James’s theory of embodied emotion, American pragmatism, and the aesthetics of cultural memory and trauma.

Title presentation: "Emotions and the feeling brain"
Over the last two decades an ‘affective turn’ has taken place in the social sciences and the humanities; many scholars today are fascinated by emotions and their role in daily life. But what are emotions actually? Here scientists disagree. Some assume that emotion is an adaptive response, hard-wired into the brain and displayed through universal facial expressions and physiological arousal. Others focus on language and context, and define emotion as a culturally specific, individual experience. In my talk I  explain why there is so much disagreement and why we need philosophy to close the gap.   

Required reading:

  • Leys, R. (2011). The Turn to Affect: A Critique. Critical Inquiry 37(3), 434-472.
    Available online
  • Beck, J. (2015) Hard Feelings: science’s struggle to define emotions. The Atlantic Daily, Feb. 24.
    Available online

Professor Ale Smidts

Department of Marketing Management, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Ale Smidts is a professor of marketing research and chair of the Department of Marketing, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). He is also director of RSM's Erasmus Center for Neuroeconomics. His current research focus is decision neuroscience and neuromarketing, including the neural processes underlying consumer decision making and social influence. He is a board member of the Social Science & Humanities Division of NWO and a board member of the Neuromarketing Science and Business Association (NMSBA).

Title presentation: "Neuroforecasting: Predicting market-level success from neural focus groups"
The burgeoning field of consumer neuroscience applies neuroscience insights and methods (EEG and fMRI) to study the behavior of consumers and their reaction to marketing actions. Insights gained help us to understand, for example, why consumers are so vulnerable to peer group influence, how price affects the evaluation of a product, and why celebrities are so effective in advertising.
In this talk I will focus on the cumulating evidence that neural markers are predictive of individual choice and market-level success. The availability of predictive neural markers would be extremely useful for practice because it enables effective pre-testing and subsequent optimization of marketing and public policy campaigns.

Required reading:

  • Couwenberg et al. (2017), Neural responses to functional and experiential ad appeals: Explaining ad effectiveness. International Journal of Research in Marketing (in press; published online)
    Available online
  • Falk et al. (2016), Functional imaging predicts public health campaign success. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 204-214.
    Available online

Further reading:
Stanton et al. (2016). Neuromarketing: Ethical implications and its use and potential misuse. Journal of Business Ethics, DOI 10.007/s10551-016-3059-0
Available online