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Wouter van Elzelingen

PhD student

Over Wouter


I am involved in fundamental research that pursues an understanding of the biological underpinnings of compulsive behavior. This behavior is common in many psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and addiction. The main focus of my research project is how controlled, goal-directed use of drugs becomes driven by uncontrolled habits or automaticity. We know that striatal dopamine release plays an important role in modulating the switch between these behavioral strategies. Using fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, I measure dopamine signals in different regions of the striatum during the transition from goal-directed to automatic behavior. If we can better understand the biological mechanisms that are involved in the development of compulsive behavior, we could work towards more effective treatment for different psychiatric disorders.


I have been interested in basic science ever since I started my studies in Medicine and decided early on to combine Medicine with Biomedical Sciences. Later, during my medical internships, I developed a passion specifically for Psychiatry. Thus, I got involved in research on compulsive behavior at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. It is my greatest dream to become a psychiatrist and to continue this research on underlying biological causes for psychiatric disorders. By doing so, I hope to participate in building a stronger bridge between clinical psychiatric practice and basic science.

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