Ghent experimental psychiatry (GHEP) lab

Background and research focus


The GHEP lab was funded in 2012 with the main objective to perform translational research within the domain of psychiatric illnesses. From the beginning the researchers aimed to integrate high quality research focusing on behavioral, psychological, and neurobiological topics. Therefore, they investigate both human and animal models related to brain functioning in the ‘healthy’ as well as in the ‘mentally’ affected brain.

Research focus

The GHEP lab is closely connected to the psychiatric ward of the Ghent University Hospital, specialized in treating mood and anxiety disorders. Hence, there is a strong background and interest in finding more efficacious treatment options using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques. Working together with the veterinary department we created translational animal models to examine the effects of neurostimulation on the dogs’ brain. This knowledge can be incorporated in the treatment of psychiatric patients, with the goal to enhance healthcare. 

The lab is specialized in non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), thetaburst stimulation (TBS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS), but also invasive brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The researchers have initiated and collaborated in numerous studies, aiming to find working mechanisms and biomarkers to understand, predict and enhance the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation.

To measure the effects of the non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, GHEP makes use of brain imaging techniques such as structural and functional (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and Electroencephalography (EEG). The researchers are also interested in psychophysiological variables such as skin conductance, respiration, heart rate variability and cortisol.


Professors and Guest Professors

Chris Baeken, Marie-Anne Vanderhasselt (contact person), Rudi De Raedt (Department of Experimental clinical and Health Psychology), Ernst Koster (Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology), Kathelijne Peremans (Department of Veterinary medical imaging and small animal orthopaedics), Guorong Wu 

Postdoctoral researchers

Debby Klooster, Tasha Poppa

PhD candidates

Jens Allaert, Lars Benschop, Qinyuan Chen, Nele De Schryver (Ghent University Hospital), Stefanie De Smet, Linde De Wandel, Sara De Witte, Beatriz Puerto Catoira, Louise Puttevils, Hannelore Tandt (Ghent University Hospital), Nele Van de Velde (Ghent University Hospital), Gert Vanhollebeke, Mitchel Kappen, Yangfeng Xu, Roland Rogiers

Technical staff and interns

Sabine Coppens, Emmanuelle Schoonjans (internship)

National and international collaborations

  • Ghent University, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Experimental clinical and health psychology, Psychopathology and affective neuroscience lab
  • Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, department of Veterinary medical imaging and small animal orthopaedics
  • Ghent University, Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Department of Electronics and Information Systems
  • University of São Paulo (Brazil), Department of Psychiatry
  • Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands), the Behavioural Science Institute
  • VUB Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, UZBrussel: departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology
  • Eindhoven University of Technology, department of electrical engineering, Eindhoven, the Netherlands 
  • Deakin University, Faculty of Health, Victoria, Australia.
  • Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality, Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China

Defended PhDs (last 5 years)

A neuroscientific perspective on being criticized: individual differences in neurobiological sensitivity to criticism and the potential for modifying it through neuromodulation

Josefien Dedoncker (2020)