Martijn van der Heuvel

Van den Heuvel foto

Dr. Martijn van der Heuvel

  • neuromuscular disorders
  • psychoses
  • structure and connections
+31 88 75 58244


Martijn van den Heuvel (1980) studied Cognitive Artificial Intelligence (CKI) in 1999 at the University of Utrecht. After an internship in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and receiving his MSc degree in 2004, he continued to work in the field of neuroimaging and signal processing. He received his doctorate (cum laude) for his thesis ‘the connected brain’ on functional and structural brain connectivity at the University of Utrecht in 2009.

Fascinated by the emerging field of brain connectomics and empowered by the view that brain function does not solely result from single regions but rather emerges from the interactions between brain regions, he started a research line on ‘brain connectomics’ at the department of psychiatry of the University Medical Center Utrecht. The goal of his work is to provide new insight into which natural rules drive the organization of structural and functional brain networks, their development over time, and to better understand how brain (dis)connectivity can lead to brain disorders. Over the last years, Martijn published several papers on human connectomics, together cited over 1500 times in scientific journals and media magazines. In 2011 he worked as a visiting researcher at the Department of Psychology at Indiana University USA, publishing first work on ‘rich-club’ organization of the human connectome, showing the existence of a well-connected core of connectivity in the human brain. His work is sponsored by grants of the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Dutch Brain Foundation, Neuroscience Cognition Utrecht and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, VENI). 

Research line and group

Research line
Number of PhD students

Personal fellowships and awards

  • Rudolf Magnus Research Price for ‘best and most innovative RMI paper of 2008/2009’ of the Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience
  • PUG price 2010 of the ‘Provinciaal Utrechts Genootschap voor kunsten en wetenschappen’, for best medical thesis of the University Utrecht between 2005 and 2010
  • ‘ALS Stichting Nederland. Motor network organization in ALS
  • Hersenstichting 2011 ’disrupted functional brain communication at the basis of autism?’
  • VENI grant 2012, Dutch Organization of Science Research (NWO), ‘The rich-club: a high capacity communication backbone of the human brain’

Most recent key publications

  • van den Heuvel MP, Kahn RS, Goni J, Sporns O (2012). A high-cost, high-capacity backbone of brain communication. Proc Nat Acad Sci 109(28):11372-7
  • van den Heuvel MP, Stam CJ, Kahn, RS, Hulshoff Pol HE (2009). Efficiency of functional brain networks and intellectual performance. J Neurosci 29(23):7619-24
  • de Reus MA and van den Heuvel MP (2013). Estimating false positives and negatives in brain networks. Neuroimage (in press).
  • van den Heuvel MP & Sporns O. Rich-club organization of the human connectome (2011). Journal of Neuroscience Nov 31(44): 15775-15786.
  • van den Heuvel MP, Mandl RCW, Stam CS, Kahn RS, Hulshoff Pol HE (2010). Aberrant frontal and temporal complex network structure in schizophrenia: a graph theoretical analysis. J Neurosience 30(47):15915-26.