Martijn van den Heuvel
“The brain as a super complex network of billions of threads”

Assistant Professor Martijn van den Heuvel is a brain researcher at the University Medical Center Utrecht. The Dutch scientist's focus is on mapping the human connectome, the brain equivalent of the human genome. This means that Van den Heuvel carries out research into the brain’s connections. He’s creating a map - just like a road map - of how those connections are organised. Van den Heuvel uses special MRI techniques known as DWI and fMRI to make the connections visible.

“All those threads create a lot of magic, but there’s plenty that can go wrong too…”

How do the connections within the brain link to human behaviour? That’s the next question Van den Heuvel would like to answer. He and other medical and scientific researchers in Utrecht are collaborating in this research. But the research into the human connectome is very much a global effort. Working with international partners, Van den Heuvel hopes to find out how our connectome forms an important basis for our cognitive behaviour and for who we are. This will eventually help us predict how altered and damaged connections can lead to the development of brain damage.

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