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 and body representation deficits in various clinical conditions including stroke, eating disorders, and body identity integrity disorder. In addition we investigate bodily illusions and characterize tactile processing using behavioural experiments in healthy individuals.

Researchers:

  • Alyanne de Haan
  • Anouk Keizer
  • Miranda Smit
  • Kayla Stone
  • Manja Engel

 

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:

  • Alyanne de Haan

 

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
  • Kayla Stone
  • Miranda Smit

 

 

 

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