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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 Monash University. I am currently supported by a Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (2015-2019) and Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) Fellowship (2013-2015).

My lab (the Monash Social Neuroscience lab) focuses on identifying the neural processes involved in empathy, morality, Theory of Mind and leadership and studies how these are influenced by group membership. The aim of this research is to get a better understanding of how complex social problems such as racism and ingroup bias develop.

We also study empathy and Theory of Mind problems in stroke patients. The aim of this research is to get a better understanding of how brain injuries influence affective and social cognition. This fundamental understanding will help in developing more efficient rehabilitation techniques in the future.

We use a wide range of techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), voxel-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analyses and neuropsychological testing in stroke patients and healthy volunteers to investigate these topics.

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