UvA psychobiologists unravel the science of waiting in NS StationsLab

29 September 2017

From 4 through 8 October, in connection with the Science Weekend (Weekend van de Wetenschap), the IJ hall of Amsterdam Central Station will be transformed into a pop-up laboratory: the NS StationsLab. Led by Tonny Mulder of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Psychobiology students from the UvA and VU medical students will explore how passengers travelling by train experience waiting.

Passengers and visitors will be able to take part in interactive experiments and tests that have to do with waiting – gaining self-insight and making a contribution to science at the same time. How can you change the way a brain thinks? And which kind of waiting is preferable, anyway? What psychological and physiological processes are taking place inside passengers as they wait? In preparation for studying this theme in the NS StationsLab, a team of lecturers and students were hard at work the passed weeks designing the experiments.

NS Stationslab team

from left to right: Ingeborg de Koe, Caroline Tichelaar, Alexandra van Harten, Erik Scherder, Tonny Mulder, Lena Sachs, Rick Spierenburg, Jonneke Stijger, Inge Bieger. c:NS

Twenty senior students have volunteered to assist UvA psychobiologist Tonny Mulder, research leader of the pop-up lab, in setting up the study. They also received help from professor of Cardiology Leonard Hofstra of VU University Amsterdam and researchers Mark van Hagen and Do van Elferen, who work hard every day on behalf of Dutch Railways (NS) in order to ensure every traveller has the best possible waiting experience.

Birte Zuidinga, psychobiologist and student researcher with the NS StationsLab: ‘I like the idea of giving a wider public a peek inside their own brains, and into the wonderful world of science. I want to show people that conducting research can be a lot of fun.’

Partnership with NS

The psychological and physiological research questions that interest Dutch Railways (NS) are a good match for the methods and techniques being taught within the UvA Bachelor’s programme in Psychobiology. The project is therefore an ideal opportunity for the psychobiology students to apply the scientific theoretical knowledge and skills they have gained in their studies to actual research practice. In the future, it may offer a structural solution for student researchers hoping to gain work placement experience and contribute to the ongoing NS research.

Opening of NS StationsLab

The NS StationsLab was opened 4 October by Erik Scherder, Weekend van de Wetenschap ambassador, together with Tonny Mulder. The Lab is open from 10:00 to 19:00 on 4 through 8 October and entry is free of charge. Further information can be found at www.ns.nl/stationslab (in Dutch).

Published by  Faculty of Science