Research Groups

van Tol group

Our research focuses on unravelling the multi-factorial nature of vulnerability for major depression and other major psychiatric disorders by studying the neurocognitive profile in relation to psychiatric comorbidity, its course, treatment effects, genetic risk, personality, and early trauma using innovative neuroimaging techniques.

We take a symptom focused and individual course trajectory approach in studying the development and maintenance of psychiatric disorders. Our research is interdisciplinary in nature, as it combines the research fields of clinical psychiatry, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, neuroradiology, and neuroscience.

By studying the neurocognitive mechanisms of vulnerability for psychiatric disorders and their treatments, we aim to understand what is needed to alter the course of psychiatric disorders and to improve psychiatric treatment.

  • People
  • Publications
  • NESDA Neuroimaging
  • Apathy study
  • Learning to preserve
  • Marie-José van Tol PhD Visit

    Assistant Professor Group leader of Neurocognition of Mood Disorders

    Research fields

    Functional Neuroimaging, Structural Neuroimaging, Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Preventive Cognitive Therapy, Longitudinal Imaging

    PhD students
    Marlijn Besten Msc.
    Rozemarijn van Kleef Msc.
    Saskia Nijmeijer MSc.
    • All Publications: mepa page or  pdf Selected Publications:
      1. Schmaal L*, Marquand AF*, Rhebergen D, van Tol MJ, Ruhé HG, van der Wee NJ, Veltman DJ, Penninx BW (2015). Predicting the naturalistic course of major depressive disorder using clinical and multimodal neuroimaging information: a multivariate pattern recognition study. Biological Psychiatry
      2. Ai H, Opmeer EM, Veltman DJ, van der Wee NJ, van Buchem MA, Aleman A, van Tol MJ (2015). Brain Activation During Emotional Memory Processing Associated with Subsequent Course of Depression. Neuropsychopharmacology
      3. van Tol MJ*, Li W*, Li M, Miao M, Jiao Y, Heinze HJ, Bogerts B, He H, Walter M (2014). Regional Specificity of Sex Effects on Subcortical Volumes Across the Lifespan in Healthy Aging. Human Brain Mapping
      4. van Tol MJ, van der Meer L, Modinos G, Bruggeman R, Knegtering H, Aleman A (2014). Voxel-based gray and white matter morphometry correlates of hallucinations in schizophrenia: the superior temporal gyrus does not stand alone. NeuroImage: Clinical
      5. van Tol MJ, Veer IM, van der Wee NJ, Aleman A, van Buchem MA, Rombouts SA, Zitman FG, Veltman DJ, Johnstone T (2013). Whole-brain functional connectivity during emotional word classification in medication-free Major Depressive Disorder: Abnormal salience circuitry and relations to positive emotionality. NeuroImage: Clinical
      6. van Tol MJ, Li M, Metzger CD, Hailla N, Horn DI, Li W, Heinze HJ, Bogerts B, Steiner J, He H, M. Walter (2013). Local cortical thinning links to resting-state disconnectivity in major depressive disorder. Psychological Medicine
      7. van Tol MJ*, Demenescu LR*,van der Wee NJ, Kortekaas R, Nielen MM, Den Boer JA, Renken R, van Buchem MA, Zitman FG, Aleman A, Veltman DJ (2012). BOLD fMRI correlates of emotional word encoding and recognition in depression and anxiety disorders. Biological Psychiatry
      8. van Tol MJ, van der Wee NJ, Demenescu LR, Nielen MM, Aleman A, Renken RJ, van Buchem MA, Veltman DJ (2011). Functional MRI correlates of visuospatial planning in outpatient depression and anxiety. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
      9. van Tol MJ, van der Wee NJ, van den Heuvel OA, Aleman A, Demenescu LR, van Buchem MA, Veltman DJ, Zitman FG. (2010). Regional brain volume in depression and anxiety disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry
      10. van Harmelen AL*, van Tol MJ*, van der Wee NJ, Veltman DJ, Aleman A, Spinhoven P, Zitman FG, Penninx BA, Elzinga BM (2010). Reduced medial prefrontal cortex volume in adults reporting childhood emotional maltreatment. Biological Psychiatry
  • In this randomized clinical trial we investigate the neurocognitive working mechanisms of preventive cognitive therapy for preventing relapse in new depressive episodes. For this project, MJ van Tol received a VENI-grant from NWO and a Hersenstichting (Dutch Brain Foundation) fellowship. For more information, see

  • The Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA; study is the world’s largest longitudinal, multi-center functional neuroimaging project in a cohort of people with depression and anxiety disorders. MJ van Tol has been involved since the baseline measurement in 2005 and now coordinate the project as Principal Investigator for the Groningen part. We are currently preparing the 14 year follow-up measurement. The primary objective of the NESDA neuroimaging study is to understand why one person is depressed or suffers from an anxiety disorder only once, while the other person develops a chronic depression/anxiety disorder.

  • In this large clinical neuroimaging-study of Prof. dr. André Aleman, non-pharmacological neuro-stimulative and behavioral treatment of apathy in schizophrenia is investigated. MJ van Tol worked as a post-doc on this project and continued to be involved ever since, mostly as a PhD supervisor. For more information see

  • This interdisciplinary PhD project funded by the University Groningen is a Young Academy Groningen inspired collaboration with dr. Merel Keijzer (applied linguistics, faculty of arts). In this innovative interdisciplinary project we study the relation between bilingualism, cognitive flexibility, and risk for disorders of old age (including dementia and major depressive disorder) using cross-sectional and experimental approaches including functional MRI

  • In this clinical neuroimaging project, financed by the Dutch Scientific Organization (NWO), we aim to 1) understand the underlying neural mechanisms of suicidality and 2) to develop neurocognitive markers predictive of risk for relapse of suicidal behavior despite adequate application of standard treatment protocol. This project is a collaboration between the Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Specialized Mental Health Care institutions. For more information see

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