Pascal Molenberghs

Senior Lecturer in Social Neuroscience, Monash University

I obtained my Master of Psychology degree (specialising in social- and neuropsychology) from the University of Leuven (Belgium). During my master thesis, I investigated the influence of status and power on discrimination between groups. I also did a research internship at the University of Birmingham with Prof. Glyn Humphreys, working with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and stroke patients who suffered from spatial neglect.

For my doctoral thesis (completed 2009), I worked with Prof. Rik Vandenberghe at the University of Leuven investigating attentional processes with fMRI and attentional problems with stroke patients.

After my PhD I moved to Australia to work as a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Queensland (UQ) with Prof. Jason Mattingley at the Queensland Brain Institute. Here I investigated the neural responses involved in the perception of actions and studied links between the perception and execution of actions using fMRI. In 2011, I received a UQ Postdoctoral Fellowship and moved to the School of Psychology at UQ.

In 2015, I took up a Senior Lecturer position on Social Neuroscience at the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences (MICCN). I am currently supported by a DECRA (2013-2017) and Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (2015-2019).

My lab (http://tiny.cc/gfrkgy) uses a range of techniques to examine the neural processes underlying social and organisational behaviour. Our current research is focused on four domains:

1. Empathy, morality, and Theory of Mind, and how these processes are influenced by group membership. The aim of this research is to improve our understanding of how complex social situations such as racism and ingroup bias develop.

2. Theory of Mind problems in stroke patients. The aim of this research is to improve our understanding of how brain injuries influence affective and social cognition. This fundamental understanding will help develop more efficient rehabilitation techniques in the future.

3. The organisational neuroscience of leadership, stress, and workplace stress management. The aim of this research is to examine how workplace behaviour influences, and is influenced by, the brain. We aim to translate these findings into practical insights for business and the wider community.

4. The effectiveness of real-time neurofeedback for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

To achieve these goals we use a wide range of techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), voxel-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), voxel-based morphometry (VBM), activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analyses, behavioural, neuropsychological and physiological testing in both clinical (i.e., stroke patients) and nonclinical populations.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Social Neuroscience, Monash University

Education

  • 2009 
    University of Leuven, PhD in Medical Sciences