Erik Scherder LINKS

Erik Scherder - 200x200If they can be induced to take more exercise again, this is found to improve the “executive functions” of their brains – the ability to take initiative, to plan activities, to control impulses and self-regulation. We need all these functions in order to be able to function independently. We do not yet know whether exercise is also good for the memory and other intellectual functions in people with dementia. It has however been established that a lack of exercise is bad for both the physical and mental fitness of people with dementia.

I worked at the Valerius Clinic here in Amsterdam at the start of my career. That taught me what is and what is not possible in the fields of psychiatry and psychology – and more importantly, I learned that there is always room for improvement, even in patients who are highly resistant to treatment. This optimism was born from love of both brain research and clinical contacts.  That is why I feel so much at home on the “shop floor”: lab work has a lot to recommend it, but I feel that research is only really worthwhile if it is patient-oriented. I want to work together with my patients, ranging from young people with serious physical trauma to elderly stroke patients, to make the best of the situation, to help them to achieve the best possible outcome on the basis of the available opportunities.

Big advances have been made in our understanding of how the brain works as a functional system during the past few decades, and these new insights have led to new, effective treatment methods. It is also encouraging that many nursing homes have become much more academic and that this professionalization has led to better use of data. At the same time, I would like to do all I can to make care more patient-oriented, in nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, maternity clinics and so on.

In line with this, I hope that students who are looking for a challenging research experience will be able to find us more easily now that our name has been officially changed to “Behavioural and Movement Sciences”. There is an awful lot of valuable research work waiting to be done!