PhD Student

Evert Boonstra

PhD Student



My project falls under the ERC starter grant of prof. dr. Heleen Slagter. We investigate the role of the basal ganglia and striatal dopamine in conscious perception. I’m working on the data analysis of a project in which OCD patients completed a number of standard conscious perception paradigms while intracranial and scalp EEG was measured simultaneously. At the same time, we’re trying to establish what it means to depart from the perspective of predictive processing and the free-energy principle for our investigations into brain function. What self-evident assumptions and practices are undermined by this departure? What does this departure mean for the study of the basal ganglia and dopaminergic firing?


I studied psychology and philosophy in Leiden. On the psychology (or cognitive neuroscience) side I worked on projects surrounding perceptual decision making in combination with EEG. On the philosophy side I was drawn towards so-called “continental philosophy” and its present-day continuation in the work of Slavoj Žižek and Catherine Malabou.

Research Interest

Empirically, I’m interested in applying computational models that cast brain function in terms of Bayesian inference. Theoretically, I’m interested in predictive processing and the free energy principle in general, and in particular the confrontation of these perspectives with orientations disavowed by the dominant ideologies surrounding cognitive neuroscience; namely, Hegelian dialectics, Marxism, and psychoanalysis.

Recent publications

Boonstra, E.A., van Schouwenburg, M.R., Seth, A.K., Bauer, N., Zantvoord, J.B., Kemper, E.M., Lansink, C.S., & Slagter, H.A. (2020). Conscious perception and the modulatory role of dopamine: no effect of the dopamine D2 agonist cabergoline on visual masking, the attentional blink, and probabilistic discrimination. Psychopharmacology, 237, 2855–2872. Boonstra, E.A., & Slagter, H.A. (2019). The dialectics of free energy minimization. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 13, 42.