I am an assistant professor (tenured) in the Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence Department at Tilburg University, The Netherlands, where I lead the Attention, Memory, and Consciousness Research Group, and a research affiliate in the Statistical Imaging Neuroscience group led by Dr. Christian Beckmann at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. I was awarded an NWO Veni grant for my research project Drawn in or zoned out? Tracking the wandering mind during reading (2020-2025). 

When, why, and how does the mind wander?  I am interested in the cognitive and neural underpinnings of mind wandering, in particular in the context of discourse processing. My research focuses on where mind wandering thoughts come from, and how brain networks interact to generate these spontaneous thoughts. I combine behavioural and neuroimaging research with the development of state-of-the-art analysis methods to measure mind wandering from behavioral (e.g., eye gaze) and brain data. Specifically, I am interested in uncovering the role of mind wandering in our everyday experience: is it merely an unwelcome distraction, or does it (positively) contribute to tasks that might rely on internally-directed attention, such as feeling absorbed in a story, or coming up with creative ideas. To do so, I co-lead the inter-departmental Attention, Memory, and Consciousness Research Group at Tilburg University (together with Dr. Marie Postma, Department of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence), and collaborate with researchers in Psychology, Culture Studies and Philosophy. 

In addition, I have a strong interest in semantic and episodic memory, with a focus on how the architecture of the brain supports (spontaneous) retrieval and consolidation of knowledge and experiences. I therefore study how the brain processes and stores events (collaborations with Dr. G.A. Radvansky, University of Notre Dame, Dr. Neil Cohn, Tilburg University), and studied the functional neuroanatomy of language and memory areas in the brain (collaboration with Dr. Guillen Fernandez and the Healthy Brain Consortium, Donders Institute).   

Previously, I was a postdoctoral research associate in the Emotive Computing Lab led by Dr. Sidney D'Mello at the University of Notre Dame Department of Psychology, studying mind wandering during text- and film comprehension. I used a combination of behavioral measures, eye tracking, computational methods and content analyses to establish what the environmental conditions are that give rise to mind wandering (in collaboration with Dr. G.A. Radvansky) and how eye gaze can be used to detect a wandering mind across different tasks (in collaboration with Dr. James Brockmole). 

I obtained a PhD in Psychology from the University of York (UK) with a specialization in event perception, memory, language and time (advisor: Dr. Silvia Gennari). My PhD work examined how we encode events and how we reconstruct their unfolding, focusing on the role of event structure in duration attribution. Before my PhD, I investigated how children acquire the meaning of complex concepts like quantifiers (University of Groningen) and how people mentally represent the meaning of action verbs in different contexts using neuroimaging methods including brain connectivity (University of York).