Scientific project

How do entrepreneurs' brains work?


Previous research at ULiège/CHU de Liège, carried out jointly by researchers in entrepreneurship and neuroscience (Professors Bernard Surlemont, Frédéric Ooms and Steven Laureys), has already highlighted certain neuronal characteristics of the specific functioning of the brain of entrepreneurs, in particular the higher functional connectivity between two cerebral areas (the insula and the prefrontal cortex), connectivity implicated in decision-making readiness.


oday, in the wake of these first innovative studies, to which Frédéric Ooms recently devoted his doctoral thesis at HEC Liège, the HEC Liège Research Unit - School of Management (Frédéric Ooms, Bernard Surlemont) and the GIGA-Neurosciences Research Centre (Fabienne Collette, coordinator) of the ULiège are conducting a new study combining neuroscience and entrepreneurship, drawing on the testimonies and collaboration of entrepreneurs, both established entrepreneurs and those in the early stages of development, particularly those supported by student incubators in French-speaking Belgium.

The main objective of this new study is to understand how entrepreneurial experience can impact cognitive flexibility, i.e. the ability to adapt to new or uncertain situations. Since entrepreneurs operate in an uncertain and sometimes stressful environment, the researchers also want to determine the influence of uncertainty and mental well-being on changes in flexibility as a function of entrepreneurial experience. They also aim to determine whether the difference in cognitive flexibility observed in their previous research between entrepreneurs and managers is an antecedent or a consequence of the entrepreneurial process.

These questions, raised by new scientific hypotheses, remain unexplored by research at the intersection of entrepreneurship and neuroscience.

To carry out their work, the study leaders are currently looking for over 500 entrepreneurial volunteers, both established and new, to take part in various aspects of the study.

The first step is to complete the online survey, which can be accessed at


Fabienne Collette

Frédéric Ooms

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