My research aims to test whether abnormal somatosensory and motor functioning following stroke affects body representation and peripersonal space (near space). When somatosensory perception or motor output is reduced we anticipate impaired body perception and peripersonal spatial coding near the affected body part, resulting in knocking over objects and bumping into doorways. Behaviorally, we will test patients with tactile deficits on a range of paradigms for which body perception and multimodal peripersonal coding is relevant, such as predicting the tactile location. On a neural level, we will use lesion overlap to determine the exact brain areas responsible for this visuo-tactile predictive mechanism.
Previously, I focused on various experimental treatment methods in visuospatial neglect (i.e. prism adaptation and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). These patients mostly ignore stimuli contralesionally (usually in the left peripersonal space after right gemispheric damage). In my latest work I repeatedly applied tDCS to the posterior parietal cortex to modulate spontaneous neural activity levels in a polarity dependent fashion to find evidence for improvements in severe hemispatial neglect in chronic patients. We investigated whether dampening neural activity of the intact, presumably overactive hemisphere, combined with increasing neural activity in the damaged hemisphere, might restore cortical interhemispheric balance and reduce neglect.
Smit M., Schutter D.J., Nijboer T.C., Visser-Meily J.M., Kappelle L.J., Kant N., Penninx J., Dijkerman H.C. (2015). Transcranial direct current stimulation to the parietal cortex in hemispatial neglect: A feasibility study. Neuropsychologia, 74, 152-161.
Bethlehem RAI, Dumoulin SO, Dalmaijer ES, Smit, M, Berendschot TTJM, et al. (2014) Decreased Fixation Stability of the Preferred Retinal Location in Juvenile Macular Degeneration. PLoS ONE 9(6)
Smit, M., Van der Stigchel, S. Visser-Meily, J.M.A., Kouwenhoven, M., Eijsackers, A., & Nijboer, T.C.W. (2013). The feasibility and efficacy of computer-based prism adaptation to ameliorate neglect in subacute stroke patients admitted to a rehabilitation center. Frontiers Human Neuroscience.
Smit, M., Schutter, D.J.L.G., Nijboer, T.C.W., Kappelle, L.J. & Dijkerman, H.C. (2013). Nieuwe ontwikkelingen in behandeling van unilateraal neglect. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde.