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

Mixed Reality  

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.

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.

Elissa Embrechts

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

Background: Physical Therapy

Currently working on two projects. The first one is to evaluate the user-experience and feasibility of wearables (activity trackers) in stroke patients with spatial neglect. The second is to investigate whether patients with spatial neglect are generally more or less active compared to those without.

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.

Charlotte Southcombe

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.

Jiatong Meng

Affiliation: PhD candidate at Utrecht University

Background: MSc Media Communication

Project: Social Media Use across contexts.
We will study parental styles across contexts (e.g. countries, cultures, SES, chronic illness) and its influence on children’s social media use. We will focus on ‘normal’ use of social media mainly, but will also target problematic use and its relation to parental styles and contexts.


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

Damian van der Neut

Affiliation: researcher at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, MSc Youth Studies

Project: Social Media Use
I am working on the Dynamics of Youth Invigoration Grant PLUS project, in which we aim to identify social media use in families with a chronically ill child.”

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. 

Interns

Digitised Neuropsychological Assessment (dNPA)  

Merel de Groot

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

Project: During my traineeship I will investigate the user-friendliness of new modern tasks on an iPad for neglect patients, their occupational therapist and possibly their next of kin. Additionally, I will investigate any differences with a healthy control group.

Veerle Brouwer

Affiliation: Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht

Background: MSc Neuropsychology, MSc Neuroscience & Cognition

Currently working on the innovation in digitized neuropsychological assessment, in which I will explore the feasibility of remote neuropsychological testing. The pilot project is a collaboration with prof. dr. Arjen Slooter and will include (remote) neuropsychological testing in ICU-patients (UMC Utrecht) after hospital discharge.

Urszula Kaleta

Affiliation: Master’s student at Utrecht University

Background: MSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

CoCo-P is a questionnaire used to detect and measure cognitive complaints in a daily life among the patients with acquired brain injury. As a new intern, I will work on and the first steps of international development of the CoCo-P, translate it into Polish and collect data of first Polish-speaking participants. 

Savvina Chrysostomou

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BA Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

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 Greek and administer the new version to Cypriot healthy controls and Cypriot patients. Comparisons will then be made between the Cypriot results and existing Dutch data.

Tessie Hamers

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology – track Neuropsychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

For my masterthesis I am working together with Iris on a project of Teuni ten Brink. For this project we will try to validate an eye-tracking battery in order to find sensitive biomarkers for frontotemporal dementia.

Iris de Jong

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology 

For my masterthesis I am working together with Tessie on the validation of an eye-tracking test battery which later on can be used in frontotemporal dementia patients. 


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.

Manja Tomašević

Affiliation: Utrecht University.

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc in Neuropsychology

I’m currently extracting ‘wayfinding features’ from a Virtual Reality simulation to gain insight in the potential of these innovative biomarkers for estimating cognitive abilities of various classes of ‘patient populations’: stroke patients, former ICU patients and a special group of healthy people with a specific genetic mutation (C9orf72).  
In a second project I focus on innovative cognitive screeners, namely the Oxford Cognitive Screen and the OCS-plus. I’m inquiring if there is a difference in sensitivity between the two, as well as if there are transfer and learning effects dependent on, for example, the order of administration. 

Marlise Fikse

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: Neuropsychology

The aim of my study is to assess the performance of a healthy population in a Virtual Reality game called Koji’s Quest. This game is developed to assess and train cognitive skills. I am specifically looking into the influence of cybersickness on performance, as well as its prevalence in a healthy population.

Kyliana van Hoorn

Affiliation: Master’s student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc. Psychology, master Neuropsychology

As part of my innovation internship, I am involved in a project that aims to develop new more ecologically valid and predictive neuropsychological outcome measures using a VR Serious Game in children with congenital heart disease.

Lotte van Zantvliet

Affiliation: Master’s student at Utrecht University 

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology 

I am currently involved in a project that aims to use Virtual Reality and Serious Games in assessing and training cognitive functions in children (aged approximately 10 years) with congenital heart disease and children who were prematurely born, suffered asphyxia or stroke. 

Isa Willemsen

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

I am currently involved in a project which aims to apply Augmented Reality (AR) in treatments for neglect patients. By focusing on healthy controls, ‘norms’ for visual search in the AR application can be determined.

Nick van Batenburg

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: BSc Psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

Currently I am working on a thesis project in which we use an Augmented Reality serious game and eye-tracking technology. I am going to conduct research on healthy participants, with the aim of establishing ‘norms’ for our AR application.  


Non-invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS)

Dimitry Wiegman

Affiliation: Master’s student Neuropsychology at Utrecht University

Background: BSc psychology, currently MSc Neuropsychology

I am currently as an intern involved in the NIBS project, the aim of this project is to determine if the addition of tACS to standard treatment is beneficial in treating patients with neglect.

Estelle van Straten

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University

Background: Neuropsychology

I am working on a brain stimulation project in patients with neglect.

Rian van Houwelingen – de Jonge 

Affiliation: Master’s Student at Utrecht University  

Background: BSc Life Science & Technology, currently MSc Neuropsychology 

Because of my background in Life Science & Technology, I am fascinated about the potential of applying technological innovations within clinical practice. I am currently investigating the potentially beneficial effect of non-invasive brain stimulation on hemispatial neglect symptoms after stroke in the chronic phase. Within my thesis project I will mainly focus on the generalizability of the training to general daily life activities. 

Alumni

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