SMARTneurolab

Our Team

Associate Professor (Principal Investigator)

Tanja Nijboer

Utrecht University
Department of Experimental Psychology
Helmholtz Institute

Website: https://www.uu.nl/medewerkers/tcwnijboer

Postdocs

Hanne Huygelier

Affiliation: Postdoctoral Researcher at Brain and Cognition, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium & Copromotor of Eileen Bousché

Investigating the potential of computational modelling, Bayesian statistics in combination with innovative technology for clinical neuropsychological diagnosis during my postdoctoral research. In addition, during my PhD I developed an immersive virtual reality rehabilitation game (i.e., HEMIRehapp) for hemispatial neglect. We plan to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of this new rehabilitation approach in the next years.

Elissa Embrechts

Affiliation: University of Antwerp, Research Group MOVANT (Dept. Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy)

PhD Candidates

Basic mechanisms  

Sanne Böing

Affiliation: Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, MSc Neuropsychology, MSc Neuroscience & Cognition

How do patients with acquired brain injury employ their visual working memory to efficiently perceive and use visual information? Do conventional neuropsychological tasks tell the whole story or should we move on to novel paradigms? During the course of my PhD I will try to find out whether eye movement behavior can give insights in underlying (working) memory deficits after acquired brain injury, and whether and how this relates to findings on tasks used in standard neuropsychological assessment.

Alex Hoogerbrugge

Affiliation: Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University

Background: BSc. Psychology, MSc. Artificial Intelligence

Uncovering, at any given time, how many items are present in someone’s (visual) working memory is a complex task. I will investigate whether computational cognitive models can give insight into working memory usage based on gaze behaviour – and how experimental manipulations affect this usage of working memory. Additionally, I will investigate whether various patient populations use different working memory strategies as compared to healthy controls, by seeing whether machine learning models can dissociate between the two groups based on gaze behaviour and memory usage.

Martine Kant-Bosma

Affiliation: Department of public health and primary care, Leiden University Medical Center and Zorggroep Florence

Background: BSc Physical Therapy, MSc Neurorehabilitation and innovation, PhD candidate

A Dutch multicenter study to provide more insight into the process of VSN assessment in GR and to provide more insight into the stroke population with VSN during and after GR. The outcomes of the study will improve VSN assessments in GR neurorehabilitation and will ameliorate the insight of problems due to VSN in GR patients.


Mixed Reality  

Eileen Bousché

Affiliation: Utrecht University Experimental Psychology

Background: BSc. Psychology, MSc. Neuropsychology

Using Mixed Reality and Serious Gaming techniques to develop new neuropsychological outcome measures. Starting with assessing cognitive performance in children who underwent open heart surgery in early life with a VR Serious Game.

Charlotte van de Wouw

Affiliation: Utrecht University Experimental Psychology and Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital

Background: Neuropsychology

I am working on the ‘Playing for Cognition’ project (grant Stichting Hartekind), in which I will evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a Virtual Reality Serious Game for cognitive training in children with congenital heart disease.

Jeffrey Harris

Affiliation: Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University

Background: B.Sc. Psychology, M.Sc. Cognition and Psychophysiology

I am a PhD student supervised by Tanja Nijboer and Stefan van der Stigchel. My background lies in cognition and attention, specifically in visual perception. My PhD project revolves around finding an objective measurement for the experience of presence, which is defined as “the feeling of being inside of a virtual environment”. I am interested in how the experience can be quantified and utilized in practical applications and in understanding which factors influence the experience of presence.

Judy Bakker

Affiliation: Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University and Geriatrische Revalidatie Zorg, afdeling Onderzoek, Omring, Hoorn, Nederland

Background: Ergotherapeut en Master Digitale Innovatie in Zorg en Welzijn (M.A.)

Applying Augmented Reality(AR) to align treatments better to the needs of neglect patients. SE(AR)CH = Scan your Environment with AR to Create less Hamper in moving.


Non-invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS)  

Marij Middag-Van Spanje (Affiliated PhD Candidate)

Affiliation: PhD candidate at Maastricht University (Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Brain Stimulation and Cognition lab) and Interakt Contour

Background: Health Sciences

I believe that NIBS has the potential to become a powerful therapeutic tool to treat neglect symptoms following stroke. My research projects aim to answer the question whether NIBS, specifically tACS, can be used to correct for the visuospatial attention bias typically seen in neglect patients.

Olof van der Werf (Affiliated PhD Candidate)

Affiliation: Brain Stimulation and Cognition Group, Maastricht University

Background: Neuropsychology

In my current project we study whether high-definition transcranial electrical stimulation can help improve cognitive rehabilitation outcomes for neglect in subacute stroke patients. In this project we use an interactive digital test- and training programme that recruits the patient’s visuomotor system and provides in-depth insight into training progress.

Research Assistants

Mixed Reality

Nine Pletting

Affiliation: research assistant Utrecht University, Experimental Psychology

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

Project: In close collaboration with the Department of Neonatology at the WKZ we will investigate the feasibility, user-experience and potential added value of a VR Serious Game for cognitive assessment. We focus on children (aged approx 10 years) who were very prematurely born, suffered asphyxia, or stroke. 

A second project I’m involved in is targeting return to work in (young) adults who suffered acquired brain injury. In this project, we will use a VR simulation and investigate its potential to better explain, train and coach those young adults on their way to return to work. 

Thijmen van Deijl

Name: Thijmen van Deijl  

Affiliation: Research assistant Utrecht University 

Background: BSc Psychology, MSc Neuropsychology (current) 

Project: I will assist in ‘Playing for Cognition’, a project in collaboration with the WKZ Neonatology department. Here we investigate how a VR Serious Game can serve as cognitive training in children with congenital heart disease. In another project, Job-E-Tunities, I will investigate how younger adults with acquired brain-injury can be assisted in labour (re)integration, using nuanced neuropsychological assessment from a VR Serious Game that mimics a working environment.  

Interns

Digitised Neuropsychological Assessment (dNPA)  

Sofia Sousa

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology at Vrije University Amsterdam

The CoCo-P is a questionnaire which was developed in the Netherlands as a measure for cognitive complaints in daily living, specifically for patients with Acquired Brain Injury. In my internship I will be translating the CoCo-P questionnaire into Portuguese and collecting data with healthy controls, and possibly patients, from Portugal. Afterward I will compare the results with data from the Netherlands. 

Anna Hoffmann

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

I’m going to start working on the Coco-P as my thesis project in the SMARTneurolab soon. The Coco-P is a questionnaire developed for patients with acquired brain injury which focuses on their cognitive complaints in daily life situations. So far, the questionnaire only exists in a couple of languages and I’m excited to translate it to German. I will also gather healthy control data with the newly translated version. After this Master’s I’m planning on doing a PhD program in clinical neuropsychology, so I’m looking forward to acquiring new research skills during this project!

Elsemiek Stehouwer

Affiliation: De Hoogstraat revalidatie  

Background: Arts in opleiding tot revalidatiearts

A Dutch multicentre study to provide more information about a patient experience with a neuropsychological assessment.

We developed a survey which contains 3 parts. To get an overall view of the participants the first 6 questionings are based on an often-used survey the EQ6D. This tells us something about a patient’s limitations in mobility, self-care, daily activities, pain, anxiety and cognitive functions.

The middle part of the survey are questions about the Patient experiences. For example; Was the NPA meaningful for you? Are the outcomes helpful in daily life? 

The last 3 questions are about innovation of the NPA in the future. These questions can be helpful in the discussion about developing a digital NPA. Which can have pros and cons for patients and professionals.

Cristina Romero

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology at Radboud University Nijmegen

Project description: For my internship at SMARTneurolab, I will help to develop the new Coco-P instrument. The Coco-P is a questionnaire which aims to get more insight into the cognitive complaints experienced in daily life in patients with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). The added value of my involvement in the project is that I will be translating the Coco-P questionnaire into Spanish. Subsequently, I will collect healthy control data from Spain and compare it with corresponding Dutch data.

Sahasra Vijayanand

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BA Honours Global Studies, currently MSc Neuropsychology student

CoCo-P is a questionnaire used for assessing the daily cognitive complaints among patients with Acquired Brain Injury. As a new intern, I will translate the questionnaire into Tamil for potential use in the Tamil-speaking population in India and other Tamil-speaking countries. I will administer the new version to Tamil-speaking healthy controls and potentially patients. Cross-cultural comparisons will then be made between the Indian population and the Dutch population on cognitive complaints using the CoCo-P. 


Mixed Reality  

Nine Pletting

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

I am currently involved in a project which aims to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of Virtual Reality Serious Games as cognitive training for children with congenital heart disease.

Lotta Kooijmans

Affiliation: Master’s student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Educational Sciences, currently MSc Neuropsychology

Project: I am currently working on the Job-E-Tunities project. For this project, a new virtual Restaurant Simulation is developed. Through this simulation, people can experience working life again and psychologist can assess their functioning. For my thesis, I will be researching the feasibility and user experience of the simulation.

Eleni Kalligeri Skentzou

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

Marialena Theodorakopoulou

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

 

Alumni

There have been many others participating in this lab. Read more about them on our alumni page.