Sanne de Wit graduated from the University of Nijmegen in 2002, and then received a scholarship to obtain her PhD degree at the Dept. of Experimental Psychology of the University of Cambridge. Her PhD project was supervised by Prof. Anthony Dickinson and concerned the associative and neural mechanisms mediating goal-directed action, habits, and response conflict resolution. She then moved on to a postdoc position at the Dept. of Psychiatry (2006-2008) to collaborate with Prof. Paul Fletcher on the translation of animal models to human psychology and neuroimaging. Since 2008 she works at the University of Amsterdam and has extended her research to include the study of impulsive and compulsive behaviour; first as a postdoc in the lab of Prof. Richard Ridderinkhof at the Dept. of Developmental Psychlogy, and presently as an Associate Professor at the Dept. of Clinical Psychology. In 2014, she obtained a 5-year personal (VIDI) grant to investigate the effect of cognitive planning on habit formation ('Implementation intentions: can the brain strategically generate instant habits?').
Next to her research, she teaches several courses at the UvA and supervises students on research projects (see Teaching). She is also a member of the Research Master Committee. The postdocs working in her lab (www.habitlab.nl), are Dr. Irene van de Vijver and Tim van Timmeren.
My research Interests
My interests lie at the interface between associative learning theory, behavioural neuroscience, and clinical psychology. The overarching idea behind my research is that fundamental mechanisms of learning and motivation lie at the basis of decision-making and can give rise to adaptive as well as maladaptive behaviour.
Conventional experimental paradigms that require participants to respond according to instructed stimulus-response mappings are not suitable for the study of incentive modulation of goal-directed action. To overcome this limitation, I develop experimental paradigms that are direct translations from animal models. I combine behavioural analyses with a neurobiological approach, using mainly functional Magnetic Resonance Imagin g to investigate the neural underpinnings of actions and habits.
To investigate whether disruptions of fundamental learning and motivational mechanisms play a role in complex, clinical conditions, I currently collaborate with clinical researchers in the setting of, for example: obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction and obesity .
Gottwald, J., De Wit, S., Apergis-Schoute, A., Morein-Zamir, S., Kaser, M., Cormack, F., Sule, A., Limmer, W., Morris, A.C., Robbins, T.W., Sahakian, B. (2018). Impaired cognitive plasticity and goal-directed control in adolescent obsessive–compulsive disorder. Psychological Medicine, 1-9.
Verhoeven A.A.C., Watson, P., & de Wit, S. (2018). Failing to pay heed to health warnings in a food-associated environment. Appetite, 120, 616-626.
Watson, P., & de Wit, S. (2018). Current limits of experimental research into habits and future directions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 20, 33-39.
Bachelor course (Clinical Psychology) on Compulsive Behaviour & Addiction
Researchmaster course on Learning & Motivation in Psychopathologies
See www.habitlab.nl for available internships
If you're a Master student and you're interested in contributing to this research, please email a letter with your motivation + your c.v. to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Since 2014: Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2011-2014: Assistant professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2008-2011: Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Developmental Psychology and at the Cognitive Science Center (CSCA), University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands (in Prof. Ridderinkhof's Lab)
Since 2008: Honorary Member of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge , UK
2006-2008: Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge , UK (in Prof. Fletcher's Lab)
2007: Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (part-time),University of Cambridge , UK (in Dr. Cools' Lab)
2002-2006: Ph.D. at the Department of Experimental Psychology , University of Cambridge , UK. Sponsored by scholarship of Merck, Sharp & Dohme.
PhD Supervisor: Prof. Anthony Dickinson
Research topic: Associative and Neural Mechanisms Mediating Habit Strategies to Resolve Goal-Related Response Conflict in Animals and Humans
2005: Visiting Researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of California , USA (in Prof. Balleine's lab)
1997-2002: Master degree in Biological Psychology , University of Nijmegen , The Netherlands
During my study I conducted research internships at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique , France , and at the University of Cambridge, UK. Next to my study, I worked as a student assistant at the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen.