Emma Heling

PhD Candidate

During my student days I was taught about many facets of human behaviour, which stimulated an ever-growing fascination for why people think, feel, and act the way they do. Overall, I am curious about the mechanisms that underly the variability in stress, resilience, motivation, and learning capacities, and their differences on an individual level.

In 2023 I started my PhD in which all my interest come together. I am working on revealing the neural implementation of decision-making and reinforcement regarding proactive versus reactive stress-response strategies. To this end, am using behavioral testing, neuroimaging, psychopharmacological and computational modeling in healthy subjects, to get insides into the neurocognitive mechanisms of boosting stress resilience.

I obtained a double bachelor’s degree in Social and Cognitive Neurobiological Psychology at Utrecht university. In my bachelor thesis I examined the effects of oral contraceptives on empathy. As part of a research master in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University, I did my internship in the Motivational and Cognitive Control lab, investigating which cognitive processes are underlying the changing pupil dynamics with respect to cognitive effort evaluation. Afterwards, I started as a research assistent in this lab, where I worked on two projects focussing on the stress system in PTSD patients and healthy individuals.

My personal interests are art and science, and I have a cat named Kareltje. Apart from active sports (hockey and kickboxing), I love to sing, read, paint, bake, and engage in other creative activities.


  • Kapittelweg 29
    Room 02.261
    6525 EN Nijmegen
    The Netherlands
  • Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
    Radboud University Medical Center
    P.O. Box 9101
    6500 HB Nijmegen
    The Netherlands
  • emma.heling@donders.ru.nl
  • @HelingEmma