People

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida (BA, Psychology, University of Lisbon, 2003; MA, Psychology, Harvard University, 2008; PhD, Psychology, Harvard University, 2011)

I grew up in Lisbon, Portugal, where I received my BA in Psychology (2003; Faculty of Psychology, University of Lisbon). There I worked with Leonel Garcia Marques on topics of person perception, and Paulo Ventura on semantic memory. I then moved to Cambridge MA, USA, where I did my PhD (and MA) in Psychology at the Department of Psychology Harvard University (2011) with Alfonso Caramazza in the Cognitive Neuropsychology Laboratory and Ken Nakayama in the Vision Sciences Lab. I focused on the kinds of information that are processed unconsciously under continuous flash suppression, and on the processing of tools/manipulable objects. After my PhD I started working on the neural processing of tool items, focusing on how different types of tool-related information are processed in the brain and on how tool-related regions modulate the signal in other tool-related regions.

I am currently an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences – University of Coimbra, Portugal. I am now focusing on how object-related information is mapped in the brain and how local object-selectively is defined within domain-specific networks via long-range connectivity. To do so I use fMRI, neuromodulation and behavioural testing. I am currently the PI or Co-PI in 4 FCT research projects, and the PI of the first ERC grant in the field of Psychology in Portugal – ContentMAP. My core research topics are cognitive neuroscience, object recognition, neural organization of conceptual knowledge, category specificity in the brain, neuroplasticity, and effects of neurostimulation on neural processing. To address these questions, I have the pleasure of collaborating with fantastic researchers around the world namely Bradford Mahon and the CAOs Lab now at Carnegie Mellon University; Angelika Lingnau at Regensburg University; Yanchao Bi and Fang Fang at Beijing Normal University and Peking University respectively; Mel Goodale and Jody Culham at Western University, among others.

Most importantly, I have been fortunate to have the help of an outstanding group of researchers at the Proaction Lab – you can meet them below!

Post-Doctoral Researchers

André Peres

André Peres holds a degree in Medical Physics from the University of São Paulo (2005), a Master's (2008) and PhD (2012) from the same University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Brain Institute - UFRN (2012-2016) and worked as an assistant professor at the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neurosciences - Santos Dumont Institute (2016-2019). Currently, he is a Junior Researcher at PROACTION Lab.

André's academic interests are centred on the dynamics of sensory processing, the integration between sensory systems and how environmental information is perceived by individuals. In human studies, he has used fMRI combined with machine learning techniques to understand how semantic categories are organized in the brain. In animal models, he used the electrophysiology technique with multi-electrode matrices. André has been also developing methods for brain stimulation as a neuronavigation system and protocols to assess the mismatch between the measured and nominal parameters of TMS. Find out more about him here.

Art Pilacinski

Art Pilacinski graduated in clinical psychology at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, and worked on his Master’s project at Marceli Nencki Intitute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, where he studied sex differences in implicit learning (also known as intuition), and executive impairments in Parkinson’s disease. From Warsaw he moved to Tuebingen, where he worked with Axel Lindner on action planning, as part of NOD/NoCo Lab, and established a prototyping lab (fablab) for the University of Tuebingen. In the Proaction Lab he is studying tool and action representations. He is generally interested in how the thoughts move the body and vice versa. You can find his personal page here.

Fredrik Bergström

Fredrik Bergström obtained his AS in Business Administration, AS in Philosophy, BSc in Cognitive Science, MSc in Psychology, and PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience (2016) from Umeå University (Sweden). After that, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Proaction Lab, which focused on visual object recognition and how information is organized in the cortex. Currently, he is an independent researcher in the Proaction Lab and a Principal Investigator of an FCT research project, focusing on the effects of tDCS on functional brain networks, and the relationship between consciousness and visual object processing and visual short-term memory.

Fredrik’s main areas of interest are cognitive neuroscience and philosophy. He is interested in the relationship between consciousness and brain functions such as perception, action, attention, and memory. For example, what brain regions/mechanisms are necessary for different conscious experiences? To what extent can brain functions work without consciousness? Fredrik is using psychophysics, neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI), and neuromodulation techniques (e.g., tDCS) to address these topics.

Jon Walbrin

After completing his BSc in Psychology at Bangor University (Wales), Jon Walbrin joined the Developmental Social Vision Lab at Bangor with Dr Kami Koldewyn, where he completed an MSc in Neuroimaging, then PhD in Psychology. His PhD focused on using fMRI and MVPA approaches to investigate neural responses to dynamic social interactions, using a range of different dynamic stimuli (e.g. point-light figures, moving geometric shapes, and live-action videos)

Jon joined the PROACTION lab as a post-doc in March 2019, shortly after completing his PhD at Bangor University (Wales). During his post-doc, he hopes to use fMRI with MVPA approaches to investigate category-selective responses to tools, bodies, and human-tool interactions in the posterior temporal lobe, and wider brain.

Qasim Bukhari

Qasim Bukhari is a computational neuroscientist with a background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence. He obtained a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from NED University, Pakistan, a Masters in Computer Science from University of Eastern Finland and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He uses the artificial intelligence tools to help further our understanding of the human brain. He is an expert in signal processing, multivariate pattern recognition and machine learning. His unique contribution to research is the integration of sophisticated engineering tools to ask translational and basic neuroscience questions by combining his expertise in neuroscience and engineering. He has developed software for basic psychology, preclinical and clinical MRI research. At the Proaction Lab, he is a principal investigator of the FCT project, "Seeing Ears", that aims to investigate the brain plasticity in congenital deaf after the implantation of cochlear implants. Know more about him here.

Zohar Tal

Zohar Tal obtained her PhD in Neurobiology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel). In her thesis, Zohar studied principles of topographic organization, focusing on the somatosensory and visual systems and their cross-modal correspondence. Following, Zohar was a postdoctoral fellow in Tel-Aviv University (Israel), where she studied behavioural and neural adaptations of fruit bats to urban life. This project included the application of different functional and structural MRI methods to characterize the neural correlates underlying urban behavioural adaptations of fruit bat pups during their first navigation experience.

Currently, Zohar is a postdoctoral fellow at the Proaction lab, and her main research focuses on the topographic organization of sensory information and higher cognitive functions. As part of the ContentMAP project, Zohar is using various phase-locked and population receptive field (pRF) methods to explore the topographic principles that govern the organization of object knowledge in the brain.

PhD Students

Daniela Valério

Daniela Valério obtained her BA and Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and, during that time, she collaborated with the Proaction Lab where she developed strong theoretical and practical knowledge in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. After that, Daniela worked at Proaction Lab as a research assistant where she is now a PhD fellow.

Her PhD work is focused on the organization of object knowledge in the brain. Daniela has been using a multimodal approach that includes behavioural experiments, neuroimaging techniques (e.g., fMRI) and neuromodulation techniques (e.g., tDCS). Find out more about her here.

Lénia Amaral

Lénia Amaral obtained her BA and Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Minho (Portugal) and, during that time, she managed to be involved in a series of research projects related with experimental psychology. After that, Lénia was a research assistant at the Proaction Lab (University of Coimbra, Portugal) under a project supported by the BIAL Foundation focused on neuromodulation applied to cognitive rehabilitation. Currently, she is a PhD fellow at the Proaction Lab focusing on visual object processing.

Her main areas of interest are neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. She is interested in understanding how the dorsal and ventral streams differ in their involvement in the processing of two neurally and functionally interrelated object categories – hands and tools. Lénia has been using visual psychophysics and neuromodulation techniques (e.g.: tDCS) to address these questions while using a multimodal approach. Find out more about her here.

Rita Donato

Rita Donato obtained her B.Sc. in Psychology at the University of Palermo and her M.Sc. degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Padova. During her Master course, she spent six months at the University of Lincoln where she worked on a project on the neuroscience of vision and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques supported by the College of Social Science Research Fund grant of the University of Lincoln and by the Erasmus program of the University of Padova. Currently, she is a third-year visiting research student at the Proaction Lab of the University of Coimbra. Her project is focusing on the role of the dorsal and ventral stream in visual object processing using the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Find out more about her here.

Stephanie Kristensen

Stephanie received her BSc and MSc in Psychology at the Maastricht University (Netherlands). After graduation, she joined the Proaction Lab as a research assistant on a project supported by FCT investigating tool recognition using functional MRI and psychophysics. The work aimed at understanding how low-level segregation in the visual system influences high-level object representations. Currently, she is studying for a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Neuropsychology at the Proaction lab.

Her research interests include visual perception, object recognition, and neuroimaging. Specifically, she is using functional MRI and behavioural measures to understand the cognitive representation and functional organization of manipulable objects in the healthy human brain. Find out more about her here.

Research Assistants and Master Students

Giuliana Giorjiani

Giuliana Martinatti Giorjiani holds a Bachelor’s degree in Science & Technology and in Neuroscience, and a Master’s degree in Neuroscience & Cognition from Universidade Federal do ABC (Brazil). She worked as a research assistant at the Brain Institute of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein (Brazil) from 2016 to 2018. During that time she worked on different projects applying different neuroimaging techniques, such as fNIRS and fMRI. Currently, Giuliana is a research assistant at Proaction Lab.

Her main interest is to understand how the brain encodes the different types of visual stimuli. She intends to approach this question combining functional brain imaging techniques with connectivity, RSA, and decoding analysis. Find out more about her here.

Guilherme Garcia

Guilherme Garcia has a bachelor’s degree in Physics and a master's degree in Electrical Engineering. He has experience with image processing, computer vision applications and pattern recognition methods. During his undergraduate, he worked on several projects related to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and functional MRI (fMRI). In contrast, during his master’s studies, he changed his domain of research and embraced the field of pattern recognition and the intersected areas of computer vision and image processing. Currently, as a research assistant at the Proaction Lab, Guilherme has been investigating the use of DTI to identify short-term white matter plasticity.

Inês Duarte

Inês Duarte is currently attending the course of Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the University of Coimbra. Because of her interest in neurosciences, she is also a research assistant at the Proaction Lab. Inês has been providing assistance in some research projects, namely those related to object processing in the visual system and how it is affected by the manipulation of some visual features.

She is mainly interested in understanding the brain processes behind the observable behaviour of human beings. Find out more about her here.

Joana Sayal

Joana Sayal is a student finishing the Bachelor in Psychology at University of Coimbra (3rd year). She has been collaborating with Proaction Lab since October 2017, except for her Erasmus experience period at KU Leuven, Belgium. Joana has been running behavioral and tDCS experiments and analysing data with Matlab and SPSS, while she is increasing her knowledge on some research topics.

She is focused on a project that addresses visual and visuomotor processing of hands and tools (ventral vs. dorsal streams) using tDCS. Some of her interests include techniques such as tDCS, fMRI and in topics like visual/auditory processing, neurological pathology, psychopathology and, as a musician herself, the effects of music on the brain.

Philipp Seidel

Philipp Seidel obtained his BSc. in medical computer science from the Ostbayerisch Technische Hochschule Regensburg and his MSc. degree in Experimental and Clinical Neurosciences from the University of Regensburg (Germany). During the time of his Bachelor’s thesis and the entire Master’s studies, Philipp worked as a research assistant at the department of biomedical imaging under supervision of Prof. Jens Schwarzbach at the University of Regensburg. Since March 2019 Philipp works as a research assistant at the Proaction Lab.

His main areas of interest are computational psychiatry/psychology and cognitive neuroscience. He is interested in how functionally connected brain regions can be modulated with methods such as TMS or tDCS in the resting and active brain. Furthermore, he is interested in determining the best possible MRI acquisition sequences for various experiments to increase the quality of the data. Find out more about him here.

Sara Ferreira

Sara Ferreira is a Clinical Psychogerontology master student at Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Coimbra. Additionally, she is also collaborating with the Proaction Lab in research involving visual object processing and neuromodulation techniques, such as tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation). Her main interest is cognitive neuroscience and she has recently discovered that she is passionate about the programming.

Stella de Haan

Stella de Haan obtained her BSc and MSc degree in Electrical Engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. Her graduation project on the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation on fMRI made her gain interest in neuroscience. After a few years working in the industry as an electrical engineer, she decided to pursue a career in neuroscience research. Currently, she works as a research assistant, working on the effect of tDCS on resting state fMRI.

Her main areas of interest are neurostimulation/neuromodulation and how this affects the brain and its functioning, functional and structural brain connectivity and computational neuroscience. More can be found here.

Viviana Alves

Viviana Alves is a 2nd-year Psychology student at the University of Coimbra. Memory and neurological deficits have been, for a while, her focal interests in the field and as a result, she is currently working as a research assistant in the PROACTION Lab.

Viviana’s current work focuses on tDCS (transcranial direct-current stimulation) of which she created a practical guide that will help future students, faculty members and even curious readers about this subject, by being a smart, quick and easy to use book. Additionally, she has been responsible for the conduction of behavioural experiences.

Science Communicators

Ana Sousa

Ana Sousa graduated in Applied Biology at the University of Minho, but instead of following a research career, she gained interest in scientific illustration, a form of science communication. She later did a Master in Science Communication in Universidade Nova de Lisboa. During this period she did an Erasmus placement at the Glasgow Science Centre, in Scotland, where she developed her Master report regarding exhibits in science centres. After a few different jobs in science communication and management, she gained more skills in graphic design and photography. Ana joined the Proaction lab team in 2019, having a variety of roles such as support with the website updating, contacting the media, press releasing, social media management, photographic coverage, project management, among others. Find out more about her here.

 

Daniel Ribeiro

Daniel Ribeiro obtained his graduation in Applied Biology from the University of Minho (Braga, Portugal) but soon developed an interest in Science Communication. Shortly after, Daniel joined the STOL – Science Through Our Lives, a science communication group of that University. He later acquired his master’s degree in Science Communication by the NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities (Lisbon, Portugal). Daniel has worked at the Institute of Research and Innovation in Health (Porto, Portugal) and the National Natural History Museum of the University of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal). Daniel has joined the Proaction Lab in April, where he will be working on the communication and the project management of the Lab.

His main interests include social media management, multimedia production and mediatic relations. Tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Premiere are some of his favourites for carrying away his work. You can find more about him here.

Collaborators

Bradford Z Mahon

Andrea Santi

Alfonso Caramazza

Paulo Boggio

Óscar Gonçalves

Nikolaus Kriegeskorte

Yanchao Bi

Felipe Fregni

Fang Fang

Jessica Cantlon

Angelika Lingnau

Niels Janssen

Matthew Finkbeiner

J. Frederico Marques

Mel Goodale

Jody Culham

Alumni

Ananda Zeas

Dongha Lee