Virtual Brain Experience


A virtual reality experience showing how neurons secrete neuropeptides to influence our development, behavior and emotions

As part of the University Research Fellow program of the VU University, Claudia Persoon and Prof. Matthijs Verhage created a short 3D movie that shows how research at the VU University and VU Medical Center reveals cellular processes in our brain with advanced microscopy techniques in living neurons.

Research: neuropeptides in our brain

Our brain consists of billions of neurons that form a complex network by connecting to each other. All these neurons communicate by sending fast signals, which allows us to constantly react to the current situation around us. But they also influence our development, behavior and emotions. The secretion of neuropeptides plays a central role in these processes. Neuropeptides are transported and secreted by specialized vesicles in the neuron. Using advanced microscopy techniques we can visualize the transport and secretion of neuropeptides in live neurons. With these techniques we are able to answer questions as how the vesicles are transported in the cell and how the neuropeptides are secreted. These are important questions, because problems in neuropeptide communication might result in diseases as diabetes, obesities or developmental- and psychiatric disorders. With our research on neuropeptide communication we hope to contribute to solutions for these diseases.

Virtual Brain Experience:

Visiting our “neuropeptides in the brain” movie is a real experience. The movie is showcased in a custom-build walk-through setup, named the tv-tunnel. The two sides of the tunnel contain three large screens on which the movie is projected. Walking through this tunnel gives the impression you are standing in the middle of the brain and allows you to experience the cellular processes from up-close.

The interactive tv-tunnel and our “neuropeptide in the brain” movie has been showed at different locations and at multiple events. For example at the VU University, VU Medical Center and at the AMC, during the opening of the academic year 2014 at the VU University, at the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) brain research conference (2014), at the annual Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam meeting and during the lustrum event “Kennis in Beweging” at the VU Medical Center in 2016.

The next movie gives an impression of the tv-tunnel:

Who are we?

Matthijs Verhage is a renowned scientist at the VU and the VU medical center Amsterdam. He studies how neurons in our brain secrete neuropeptides.
Claudia Persoon is a PhD-student in the lab of Matthijs Verhage and VU fellow during the academic year 2013-2014. As University Research Fellow she created an educational movie about their research on neuropeptides. This movie contains animations, live images and advanced microscopy recordings of neuropeptides in living neurons.
Both researchers are connected to the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR) at the Amsterdam Neuroscience campus.

Would you like more information about our research or movie? Or are you interested in contributing to our research? You can contact Claudia Persoon.
Phone-number: +31 (0) 20 598 2811

The movie is financed by the University Research Fellow program of the VU university. For more information see: