Scientific Tours

Guided visits to behavioral research laboratories
in and around the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The conference program included nine tours of the premier behavioral research facilities in and around the Vrije Universiteit.

  • Natura Artis Magistra (Artis) Zoo of Amsterdam. Take a look behind the scenes of Artis Zoo, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands with a 19th-century atmosphere. It exhibits a wide variety of exotic animals. Artis Zoo used to be joined to the University of Amsterdam. From the old days till now, many students and Artis staff have done research in a variety of disciplines. The behavior of zoo animals is one of these. Not only is the behavior observed in the light of fundamental ethology, but also of behavioral enrichment, which, being a hot item these days, can count on much interest. During the tour in Artis Zoo our guides will show the visitors behind the scenes addressing nutrition, identification transponders, transport of animals, international breeding programs and the application of behavioral enrichment in Artis Zoo. More information is available at
  • Cognitive Science Center (University of Amsterdam). VLAM-G, the Grid-based Virtual Laboratory AMsterdam, provides a science portal for distributed analysis in applied scientific research. It offers scientists the possibility to carry out their experiments in a familiar environment, where content and data are clearly separated. Emphasis is put on the development and use of open standards and seamless integration of external devices. It incorporates and integrates the most recent developments in Grid-computing (such as the Globus toolkit), database technology and visualization techniques. For more information visit
  • Department of Rehabilitation Medicine (Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, Amsterdam). The laboratory of human movement analysis, is performing mainly gait analysis within a clinical context. This requires that measurements put a low load on the patient. Presentation of results to the referring physicians are based on multimedia technology (SYBAR system). Research involves (1) the use of surface EMG to quantify muscle coordination within a motor task (2) measurements of energy consumption during walking (3) measurement of muscle function, including stiffness (4) effects of walking speed and perception (using a virtual world) on movement coordination (5) advanced visualization techniques. The tour will include a demonstration of the SYBAR system. For more information visit (in Dutch).
  • Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). Tour of the human gait laboratory. The Department of Human Movement Sciences is renowned for its research on human behavior related to perception and coördination, as well as in the areas of sport and rehabilitation. The tour will give an overview of ongoing projects related to wheelchair propulsion, grasping behavior in infants, but also on more fundamental research related to human muscle function. More information is available at
  • Motek, Amsterdam. Motek will demonstrate the CAREN platform. CAREN stands for the development of Computer Assisted Rehabilitation ENvironments, operating in a real-time domain. CAREN concerns the development of a virtual reality system in which the balance behavior of humans can be tested in a variety of reproductible conditions. It allows movement scientists and medical experts to view and analyze human balnace disorders in an interactive, controlled environment. For more information visit

  • Department of Computer Science (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) The Interactive, collaborative tiled display (ICWall) is a digital projection screen built with off-the-shelf computer technology. The core of the system consists of 16 DLP projectors. Aligned in a 4 by 2 grid, eight projectors (tiles) cover a physical area of around 5.5 by 2 meters and provide a resolution of 4096 by 1536. A PC drives each projector with a rather advanced graphics card. Special software takes care of the alignment of the tiles, producing a uniform image. By using two projectors for a single tile and producing images for the left and right eye, it will be possible to switch the display from monoscopic to stereoscopic mode. The ICWall is part of the Surf-funded MultiVLA project and has as primary goal to integrate this technology in an educational setting. Many applications have already been developed, through collaborations with groups from many faculties (e.g., Physics, Geology, Medicine, Human Movement, ACTA). More information can be found at

  • National Aerospace Laboratory NLR, Amsterdam. NLR is an independent research institute that carries out contract research for national and international customers. Main research areas are civil and military aeronautics and space flight. Empirical research for the utilization of new concepts and devices, such as new procedures, cockpit layouts and air traffic controller teamwork, is conducted using flight simulators and an air traffic simulation facility. Behavioural research focuses on human-machine interaction. Applied measures range from observations (e.g. video) to physiological measures in combination with the achieved performance. The tour will take you to NLR's key experimental facilities for human factors research. More information is available at

  • SARA. SARA is one of the most advanced computing and networking centers in the Netherlands, offering High Performance Computing- and Networking (HPCN) and affiliated services, such as visualization, to the scientific community, educational institutes and industry, and enabling innovative research, new educational techniques, and advanced product development. SARA's flagship in visualization is the CAVE, a multi-user projection-based VR system. In this system, the viewer is surrounded by stereoscopic computer generated images on four sides. More information is available at

  • Department of Developmental Neurobiology (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) The department uses a multidisciplinary, systemic research approach that combines molecular techniques, cell biology, neuroanatomy, electrophysiology in-vitro and in-vivo, and behavioral analysis, as well as the continued development of methodology for the analysis of the behavioral and electrical data. During the lab tour, we show our breeding facilities for birds, the facilities for sound recordings and on-line sound analysis, and our facilities for in-vivo electrophysilogical work. For the latter, we explain our telemetric system designed to collect neurophysological activity in relation to vocal communication of our experimental models, zebra finches and canaries. Further, we demonstrate set-ups to do auditory physiology in restrained animals and methods to extract data from extra-cellular multi-unit recordings. More information is available at

Last updated: 29 July 2003