Together with Prof. Chris Dijkerman, I am supervising Kayla Stone in her PhD project. Her project focuses on the function of having a sense of body ownership. She studies this in healthy samples, but also in patients who suffer from Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID).
Together with Prof. Heiko Wagner, I am supervising Judith Mergen in her PhD project at Wilhems-Universitat Munster. Her project focuses on body image and body schema in anorexia nervosa patients.
Together with Prof. Andrea Evers and Dr. Ineke van der Ham, I am supervising Anne Cuperus in his PhD project at Leiden University. His project focuses on the role of virtual reality in rehabilitation. He combines his PhD project with a position at Triple IT in Alkmaar.
Collaborative projects (highlights)
In collaboration with the Leontienhuis in Zevenhuizen, Ursula in Leiden, and Stichting JIJ in Rotterdam we are looking into body image disturbances in recovered anorexia nervosa patients. It is often presumed that body image disturbances are persistent, even after treatment. This is however rarely systematically investigated. In several studies we map in a holistic manner which aspects of body image persist after completing treatment for anorexia nervosa.
In a series of studies I am investigating how a full body illusion, or body swapping illusion, affects bodily experiences in healthy individuals. In collaboration with Ordina and Fontys Hogeschool several full body illusions have been developed for the Oculus Rift that I use in my experiments. I am mainly interested in what happens to your own bodily perception and experiences after having the illusionary experience of owning the body of a virtual avatar. What is the effect of skin color, gender, and size of the avatar on embodying the avatar? And which method for inducing a sense of embodiment is optimal? Is visuotactile stimulation essential, or is visual input on its own already sufficient?
In addition to the experiments I run at Utrecht University, I am also collaborating with the lab of Guiseppe Riva based in Milan. We mainly focus on the role body swapping illusions may play in obese patients. In collaboration with the lab of Dr. Catherine Preston based in York I am exploring the role of other full body illusions in bodily perception in anorexia nervosa patients.
In collaboration with Manja Engel and José Bonekamp (psychomotoric therapist at Altrecht Eetstoornissen Rintveld) I have developed a new intervention that specifically targets the disturbed experience of body size in patients with anorexia nervosa. The main aim of this intervention is twofold. First, patients are encouraged to focus less on making affective judgments about the size of their body and more on being able to judge which actions their current body size affords them to do. Second, we aim to align body size experience from several sensory modalities. We are currently giving workshops for professionals interested in using this intervention as well as investigating the effectiveness.
Together with Miranda Smit and Alyanne de Haan I have tested visitors of NEMO Science Center in August and October 2014. Visitors could participate in several shorts studies that all revolved around bodily illusions and peripersonal space throughout development.