Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #9 – Roshan Cools – Brain mechanisms of cognitive control and motivation

Our guest today is Roshan Cools. Roshan is a Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry at the Radboud University Medical Center and Principal Investigator at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour.

Roshan is interested in Willpower. How does it work and how do underlying factors such as cognitive control and motivation influence it? Her research goes even further and looks into how these factors are modulated by dopamine and serotonin. 

In this conversation we talk about her research and how many of the topics of cognitive control overlap with memory and decision making.

We cover many topics ranging from reward and the role of dopamine as well as cognitive enhancers such as ritalin or adderall and if they are actually effective or not. 

We also touched upon how UX design could impact cognitive control and how you should think about it.

Show Notes

Reach out to Roshan Cools at:

Twitter: @CoolsControl

Articles / Books:

Thinking fast and slow – Daniel Kahnemann

On Task – David Badre

Videos / Movies / Documentaries:

The Marshmallow Test

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #8 – Frank Leone – Using science to improve education

Our guest today is Frank Leoné. I had the distinct honor to share an office with him during our PhD time.

Frank has a passion for understanding and improving learning as well as education. He is currently an assistant professor in Neuroeducation & Artificial Intelligence at the Donders Institute. 

His focus is to integrate insights from multiple disciplines into a coherent perspective on learning experience design, which is the topic of today, and into intelligent educational apps and games. 

His own background reflects similar interests covering multiple disciplines, including programs in 

  • psychology
  • AI & neuroscience,
  • as well as entrepreneurship in serious games and gamification

On top of all that, he has also received multiple awards for his teaching.

In this conversation we talk about the science of education and learning design. What actually makes a good learning experience and how does it affect learning performance?

We cover many topics ranging from AI in education to online learning all the way to the important effect emotions have on learning. 

Show Notes

Reach out to Frank Leone at:

Twitter: @FTMLeone
Email: [email protected]

Articles / Books:

Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards – Yu-Kai Chou

The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game – Lee Sheldon

Videos / Movies / Documentaries:

The power of vulnerability – Brené Brown

The way we think about work is broken – Barry Schwartz

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #7 – Vitoria Piai – How we process and create language

Our guest today is Dr. Vitoria Piai. Vitória is a senior researcher at the Donders Centre for Cognition and the Radboud University Medical Centre. 

Her research focuses on language function in healthy and neurological populations, such as stroke, brain tumor, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia or Parkinson’s.

She pays special attention to the intersection of language and other functions, such as executive control, (semantic) memory, and motor control in the case of speaking. 

She uses a bi-directional approach where she uses models from cognitive neuroscience to better understand language function in the neurological populations, while at the same time using observations of the breakdown of language in those populations as unique insights to improve the models from cognitive neuroscience.

For her work she has received multiple grants amongst which are the:

  • Rubicon
  • Dutch Veni grant
  • Junior Principal investigator premium  

Her awards range from getting the

  • Early Career Award 3x from 3 different research societies
  • Top reviewer award
  • The award for the “Top 10% of review contributions to the field of Psychology”

The list goes on and on. 

In this conversation we talk about the science of language. How does language work? What is language and how does it impact us every day? 

We discuss how language makes us uniquely human and where do the borders lie if there are any. We also talk about the overlaps of language and memory.

Show Notes

Reach out to Vitoria Piai at:

Vitoria’s personal website:
Twitter: @vipiai
Email: [email protected]

Articles / Books:

Suggested Source (Dutch):

Videos / Movies / Documentaries:

Parkinson’s Patient cycling

Language aphasia due to stroke

Koko the Gorilla

Fastest talking man

Researchers mentioned:

Aldo Faisal – Twitter: @AnalogAldo
Simon Fischer – Twitter: @ProfSimonFisher

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #6 – Pieter Medendorp – Sensory Integration and Transformation in the brain

Our guest today is Prof. Pieter Medendorp. Pieter is the head of the sensorimotor lab at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, where he is also the chair of Sensorimotor Neuroscience and the director of the Donders Centre for Cognition.

Pieter’s research interests focus on the relationship between brain and behavior, and in particular the neuro-computational coupling between perception and action.

For his work, he has received the 

  • Career Development Award from the Human Frontier Science Program
  • and Radboud Science Award

He was also awarded the

  • Dutch Vidi and Vici grants
  • as well as the European ERC consolidator grant

He is currently

  • board member of the Neural Control of Movement society
  • member of The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives.
  • member of the editorial board of the Journal of Neurophysiology and serves as a review editor of the Journal of Neuroscience

In this conversation we talk about the science of sensory integration and transformation. Specifically, how these very fundamental processes impact us on a daily basis without us even realizing it. We discuss how our senses can fool us and how that experience can be fun. We also make links to industry and how forms of therapy and diagnosis can improve using these principles.

Show Notes

Reach out to Pieter Medendorp at:


Twitter: @pmedendorp

Books / Articles:

Yuval Noah Harari – Homo Deus

Kandel, Schwartz, Jessel – Principles of Neural Science

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #5 – Alan Sanfey – How we make decisions and the science of it

Our guest today is Prof. Alan Sanfey. Alan is a Principal Investigator at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior.

Previously he has held positions as Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona, and as a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University. 

He currently heads the Decision Neuroscience group at the Donders Institute, and his research uses a novel approach to the study of both individual and interactive decision-making by combining the methods of behavioral experiments, functional neuroimaging, and formal economic models. 

A further goal of his group is to use the knowledge gleaned from these studies to inform public policy debates.

In this conversation we talk about the science of decision making and how it could be used in industry. We discuss various aspects of decision making theory and how industry has tried to incorporate them and where things sometimes go wrong.

Show Notes

Reach out to Alan Sanfey at:


Email: [email protected]

Society for Neuroeconomics:


Dan Ariely – TED Talk – Are we in control of our decisions? 

Frans de Waal – TED Talk excerpt – Monkey fairness experiment

Books / Articles:

Trust Game

Berg, J., Dickhaut, J., & McCabe, K. (1995). Trust, reciprocity, and social history. Games and economic behavior10(1), 122-142.

Ultimatum Game

Güth, W., Schmittberger, R., & Schwarze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining. Journal of economic behavior & organization3(4), 367-388.

Paul Glimcher, Ernst Fehr – Neuroeconomics

Daniel Kahneman – Thinking fast and slow

Robert Cialdini – Influence

Rober Cialdini – Pre-suasion

Dan Ariely – Predictably irrational

Richard Thaler, Cass Sunstein – Nudge

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #4 – Ian Cameron – Problems of the academic system

Our guest today is Dr. Ian Cameron. Ian works at the exciting interface between academia, entrepreneurship, industry and society. He is driven towards the societal applications from neuroscience and psychological research, and brings management and entrepreneurial practices to academia.

He holds an MBA, where he wrote his management thesis about the alignment of culture, structure and strategy to achieve societal impact from research.

Before getting his MBA, he earned his PhD from Queen’s University, in Canada and did a postdoc at UC Berkeley. Both involved human neuroimaging and behavioural studies. 

Specifically, Ian specializes in cognition and sensory-motor control in movement disorders, making use of functional Magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI), functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and eye tracking techniques. 

As a researcher, he is interested in big-picture questions that connect neuroscience discoveries to clinical and societal applications. 

In this conversation we talk about the academic experience. We discuss various aspects, going from the ‘standard’ career path, to the transfer of knowledge into society, and all the way to the relationship of academia and industry. We try to discuss problems within the system and how business practices could potentially offer a fix.

Show Notes

Reach out to Ian Cameron at:

Twitter: @ian_gm_cameron


Books / Articles:

Eric Reiss – The lean startup

Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg – How Google Works

Cameron & Quinn – The competing values framework

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #3 – Ivar de Lange – Using psychology for bartending and cocktails

Our guest today is Ivar de Lange. Ivar is an award winning bartender and entrepreneur with a background in Medical Psychology.

In our conversation we talk about the cocktail and bar experience. How the industry is setup and where it could go. We also touch upon the impact Ivar’s medical psychology background had on his bartending career.

He also mentions specific questions he has for science.

Currently, he helps clients to design bars, menus, train staff and much more. He also works at Lucas Bols as the Global Education Manager and as Master Bartender.

For his bartending skills, he has been awarded 1st place at the 

  • Maker’s Mark Mixology Sessions
  • NBC National Championships
  • Rose’s Cup Netherlands
  • Diageo World Class Netherlands
  • Diageo World Class Western Europe Speed Round

He was also within the top 10 at:

  • IBA World Championships
  • Rose’s Cup Europe
  • Diageo World Class Global Finals

On top of that he also received the Golden Bow Tie Award for best bartender by the Dutch Hospitality and Spirit industry.

Show Notes

Reach out to Ivar de Lange at:




Cocktail (1988)

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #2 – Erwin de Boer – How sound is used for design and branding

Our guest in this episode is Erwin de Boer. Erwin is currently working as a marketing expert and has ample experience as a Sound brand designer. He also expanded his hands-on experience to video and photography.

He created sounds for many clients among which are Eindhoven Airport, Wave Kitchen Products, to 3d Audio for Virtual Reality applications for the company Zoll.

He kindly shares his industry experience and how different levels of sound branding are approached and implemented.

We also discuss opportunities to incorporate sound or music in different locations and scenarios to improve the experience. 

At the end he also reveals questions he has for science.

Show Notes

Reach out to Erwin de Boer at:

Websites: or

Instagram:, his personal handle is: @boer1993



How music works – David Byrne

Blog Podcast Tips

Podcast #1 – Raphael Smals – The difficulty of teaching entrepreneurship

Our guest in this episode is Dr. Raphael Smals. Raphael has had ample industry experience also as an entrepreneur himself. His career developed towards academia and by now teaching is a major part of his work.

We are talking a bit about Raphaels background and then move into the issues and opportunities with teaching entrepreneurship. We focus on different types of institutions, to asking if it is even possible to teach entrepreneurship, to skills that are important to have as an entrepreneur but are not taught.

I hope you have as much fun listening as I had having this great conversation.

Show Notes

Reach out to Raphael Smals at:

Personal website:





The lean startup – Eric Ries

Principles – Ray Dalio

The effective executive – Peter Drucker

Blog Tips

Popup signup forms and how to optimize them

I mean honestly, who doesn’t know popups? They occur everywhere on the web and they range from insanely annoying to intriguing. 

If you have a webshop, a blog, or any type of channel, then you most likely thought about using popups. 

The stats all universally show that popups work, at least if you put some thought into them. You can find lots of free templates online and often email marketing services offer them as well.

already after 2 seconds, the eyes are searching for the ‘close popup’.

But what should you focus on? There are just so many factors that you can tweak:

  • Timing
  • Copy
  • Imagery
  • Offer
  • Call to action (CTA)

Today we’re going to look collectively at the copy, imagery, the offer, and the CTA.

Part of a previous project of ours with Coach, was also to see how we could improve their popup signup form.

Unfortunately, for the popup itself we did not have any numbers regarding its conversion rate. But we can be sure to analyse how people react to the form itself when it shows up and that’s exactly what we did.

This is the popup signup form that they used.

What did we do?

During our test, we showed the popup form to 100 testers. While the testers were viewing the popup form, we recorded their eye movements, their emotions, and their heart rate through their webcam.

We only showed the popup for 10 seconds, which is more than enough, if you think about how fast you click them away.

The great thing about these measures is that we can dissect the popup form fully. What did people look at and when? How did that part make them feel? Were they convinced by the copy, design, offer, CTA?

Answers to these questions provide great insight and leaps in optimisation.


Let’s start by looking at the summary results. How did all the testers ‘feel’ about what they saw?

You can see by the Valence, which is a simple positive/negative emotion score, that people didn’t seem too thrilled about the popup itself.

If we break it down into the most prevalent emotions present, we can see that Anger and Disgust are dominating.

This is already not great.

Emotion List

What led to these emotions?

Let’s check the heat map of the eye movements.

From this it looks like the headline itself has received most of the attention. Second in line, is the copy. Very little went into the signup fields themselves and the CTA was, compared to the headline, neglected.

What is quite telling about how the popup is received, is that the ‘x’ to close the popup received a substantial amount of attention.

Valence map

To know what exactly of the popup led to the emotions, let’s see what the Valence map says. It’s a combination of the eye movement heat map and the valence that we measured.


From the Valence map itself, it looks like the headline and the copy were not received very well. With the headline being received the worst.

Attention over time

As a last step, we looked at the pattern of eye movements over time. This can tell us what is looked at first and the following order of how the rest of the popup is perceived.

You can see that viewing starts out with the copy and the headline. What is very important to notice, is that already after 2 seconds, the eyes are searching for the ‘close popup’. 

That simply means that the message of the headline and the copy did not convince at all. They did the opposite, leading people to exit as fast as possible!

Conclusion and impact

From the results, we can directly see that the headline performs worst and the copy itself is a close second.

Looking at the content of these, the offer in itself is very generic and not directly coupled to an offer now.

In contrast: “receive a 30% discount on your next purchase.” Would directly couple the signup to something in return, now.

It further tries to generate fear of missing out, also known as FOMO. The problem is that because it isn’t coupled to something directly in return, it is not working well.

The CTA of the button is ignored, here though it most likely is driven by the headline and copy. Visitors are not bothering to look further if those are not compelling in the first place.

The headline itself is also a CTA, but it starts with “don’t”. It would be better to chose action rather than inaction in the phrasing. “Be the first to know” would be much better.

Finally, we have the design of the popup. It is very minimalistic, which isn’t bad in general. But Coach has a lot of engaging images. If that was coupled with a good offer, then the popup itself will improve substantially.