Research

Somatosensory processing and body representations

The somatosensory system is involved in many aspects of our behaviour. It provides information about the position of different parts of the body with respect to one another. It allows characterisation and localisation of touch, stroking, and pain, and it is important for all motor action involving the body and limbs. Furthermore, tactile exploration informs us about the characteristics of external objects, resulting in a conscious perceptual experience of the stimulus which may lead to object recognition. The central question addressed in our research is how cortical somatosensory processing is organised to subserve these different functions. In our studies we assess somatosensory deficits after stroke, investigate bodily illusions and characterize tactile processing using behavioural experiments in healthy individuals.

Researchers:

  • Haike van Stralen
  • Alyanne de Haan
  • Anouk Keizer
  • Kayla Stone

 

Visual perception & action

Our research assesses the neural and functional processes underlying sensory guided action. We focus on dorsal and ventral stream processes and the role of visual perceptual input for the guidance of action. Both goal-directed and obstacle avoidance movements are studied in healthy individuals and brain-damaged patients. Moreover, motor imagery as a method for reducing motor deficits after stroke has been assessed.

Researcher:

  • Rudmer Menger

 

Hemispatial neglect

  • Hemispatial neglect is a severely disabling and frequently occurring consequence of unilateral (often right hemisphere) stroke in which patients fail to detect or to respond to stimuli on their contralesional side. It is often associated with reduced functional recovery and long-term disability and interferes with physical rehabilitation. It is therefore crucial to optimize recovery from hemispatial neglect. Our research has been focused on two different methods. Prism adaptation in which patients perform visuomotor adaptation to rightward displacing prisms. A second method under investigation is transcranial direct current stimulation, in which a weak electrical current applied to the skull can influence brain activity underneath. The aim is to reduce the imbalance in brain activity between damaged and healthy hemisphere.

Researcher:

  • Miranda Smit

Peripersonal space

Over the last two decades, evidence for a multimodal representation of the space near the body, the peripersonal space, has been accumulating. There is considerable evidence for a body-centred reference frame in which tactile and nearby visual stimuli is integrated. This integration facilitates sensorimotor control, perceptual detection and affective judgements of approaching people and objects. Our research investigates the idea that various functions exploit the same mechanism, e.g. the predictive value afforded by a visual stimulus presented close to the observer, namely the occurrence of an impending bodily sensory stimulus.

Researchers:

  • Alyanne de Haan
  • Maartje de Jong
  • Manasa Kandula
  • Miranda Smit

 

 

 

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