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Prof Maarten Speekenbrink
26 Bedford Way
Prof Maarten Speekenbrink profile picture
  • Professor of Mathematical Psychology
  • Experimental Psychology
  • Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Amsterdam. I obtained a double specialization in psychological research methods, and in clinical psychology. After a brief period as a researcher at the Free University Amsterdam, I returned to the University of Amsterdam for a PhD in Psychological Methods. During my PhD, I was part of the Interuniversity Graduate School of Psychometrics and Sociometrics, which allowed me to further enhance my knowledge and skills in advanced statistical modelling. After completing my PhD, I moved to University College London as a postdoctoral researcher at the ESRC centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution (ELSE). Subsequently, I was PI in a second postdoc position, working on adaptive experimental design. I joined the Department of Experimental Psychology as Lecturer in Mathematical Psychology in 2013, and an Associate Professor in 2017. I lead the Speekenbrink lab on computational learning and decision making.

Research Summary

A main focus of my research is to examine the cognitive and computational principles of human learning and decision making. When and why do people abandon their habitual choices to gain new experiences? How do they generalize their prior experiences to make inferences and informed decisions in novel situations? The goal of my research is to understand (1) how people interact with their environment in order to acquire knowledge about it, (2) how this knowledge is structured and adapted to an ever-changing world, and (3) how this knowledge is used to make better inferences and decisions. I approach these topics with a combination of mathematical modelling and behavioural experiments. I use Bayesian reinforcement learning as a mathematical framework to understand learning and decision making at the cognitive, behavioural and neural level. My research lies on the intersection of psychology and AI, and is characterised by a synergy between theoretical and methodological development.

Teaching Summary

A main teaching responsibility is convening the PGT advanced statistics module for MSc and PhD students at Psychology and Language Sciences. This module focuses on a general model comparison approach to statistical inference, and the use of state-of-the-art software (R and JASP). I also contribute to undergraduate seminars, and supervise empirical research projects at BSc and MSc level.

Academic Background
2005   Doctor of Philosophy Universiteit van Amsterdam
1999   Doctoraal Universiteit van Amsterdam
1994   Propaedeusis Universiteit van Amsterdam
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