Sebastiaan F W Neggers

University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Publications (69)234.69 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The great majority of studies on repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) as a therapeutic tool for auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) have used 1-Hz stimulation with inconsistent results. Recently, it has been suggested that 20-Hz rTMS has strong therapeutic effects. It is conceivable that this 20-Hz stimulation is more effective than 1-Hz stimulation. The aim of this preliminary study is to investigate the efficacy of 20-Hz rTMS compared with 1-Hz rTMS as a treatment for AVH. Eighteen schizophrenia patients with medication-resistant AVH were randomized over two treatment groups. Each group received either 20 min of 1-Hz rTMS or 13 trains of 20-Hz rTMS daily over 1 week. After week 1, patients received a follow-up treatment once a week for 3 weeks. Stimulation location was based on individual AVH-related activation patterns identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Severity of AVH was monitored with the Auditory Hallucination Rating Scale (AHRS). Both groups showed a decrease in AVH after week 1 of rTMS. This decrease was significant for the 20-Hz group and the 1-Hz group. When the two treatment types were compared, no treatment type was superior. Based on these results we cannot conclude whether high frequency rTMS is more effective against AVH than is traditional 1-Hz rTMS. More research is needed to optimize stimulation parameters and to investigate potential target locations for stimulation.
    Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging 10/2014; · 3.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stimulating brain areas with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) while concurrently and noninvasively recording brain activity changes through functional MRI enables a new range of investigations about causal interregional interactions in the human brain. However, standard head-coil arrangements for current methods for concurrent TMS-functional MRI somewhat restrict the cortical brain regions that can be targeted with TMS because space in typical MR head coils is limited. Another limitation for concurrent TMS-functional MRI approaches concerns the estimation of the precise stimulation site, which can limit the interpretation of the activity changes induced by TMS and increase the variability of the stimulation effects. Here, we present a novel approach using flexible MR receiver coils, allowing for stimulation of a large part of the cortex including more lateral areas. Furthermore, we present a fast and economical method to determine the precise location of the stimulation coil during scanning. This point-based registration method can accurately compute, during scanning, where TMS pulses are delivered. We validated this approach by stimulating medial (M1) and more lateral (dorsal part of the supramarginal gyrus) brain areas concurrently with functional MRI. Activation close to but not directly at the stimulated location and in distal areas connected to the targeted site was observed. This study provides a proof of concept that TMS of medial and lateral brain areas is feasible without significantly compromising brain coverage and that one can precisely determine the exact coil location inside the bore to verify targeting of brain areas.
    Journal of clinical neurophysiology: official publication of the American Electroencephalographic Society 10/2014; 31(5):474-487. · 1.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rapid and reactive control of movement is essential in a dynamic environment and is disrupted in several neuropsychiatric disorders. Nonhuman primate neurophysiology studies have made significant contributions to our understanding of how saccadic eye movements can be rapidly inhibited, changed, and monitored. These results highlight a frontostriatal network involved in gaze control and provide a strong basis for understanding how cognitive control of action is implemented in the human brain. The goal of the present study was to bridge human and nonhuman primate studies by investigating reactive control of eye movements during fMRI using a task that has been used in neurophysiology studies: the search-step task. This task requires a speeded response to a visual target (no-step trial). On a minority (40%) of trials, the target jumps to a new location and participants are instructed to inhibit the initially planned saccade and redirect gaze toward the new location (redirect trial). Compared with no-step trials, greater activation in a frontal oculomotor network, including frontal and supplementary eye fields (SEFs), and the striatum was observed during correctly executed redirect trials. Individual differences in stopping efficiency were related to striatal activation. Further, greater activation in SEF was in a region anterior to that activated during visually guided saccades and scaled positively with error magnitude, suggesting a prominent role in response monitoring. Combined, these data lend new evidence for a role of the striatum in reactive saccade control and further clarify the role of SEF in action inhibition and performance monitoring.
    The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 06/2014; 34(26):8918-29.
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Although some therapies may be beneficial for some patients in reducing tinnitus, there is no curative therapy. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has been applied as a treatment for chronic tinnitus, but the effect remains controversial. Material and Methods: Fifty patients were treated with rTMS or placebo. Treatment consisted of 2,000 TMS pulses on each auditory cortex, at a rate of 1 Hz and an intensity of 110% of the individual motor threshold, on 5 consecutive days. rTMS and placebo effects were evaluated directly after treatment, after 1 week, and after 1, 3 and 6 months. Primary outcome was the Tinnitus Questionnaire (TQ). Secondary outcomes were the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI) and a visual analogue scale. Results: At none of the follow-up evaluation moments a significant difference between rTMS and placebo was observed with respect to changes in TQ or THI scores relative to pretreatment scores. Multilevel modelling (MLM) analyses did not show a global treatment effect either. Patients with a higher degree of burden showed slightly greater improvement after rTMS (only significant on the THI with MLM analyses). Conclusion: Bilateral low-frequency rTMS of the auditory cortex was not effective in treating tinnitus. © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.
    Audiology and Neurotology 10/2013; 18(6):362-373. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Perception of relevant visual object features can be modulated by the preparation of an action towards it ('action-modulated perception'). For instance, the perception of the orientation of a book can be enhanced when preparing to grasp it (but not when pointing to it). However, the underlying neuronal mechanisms are poorly understood. We argue that brain areas controlling arm movements are involved in establishing this effect through top-down feedback to early visual areas, similar to the neuronal mechanisms linking visual attention and eye movements. To investigate this involvement we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to a grasping motor area, the anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS), during grasping or pointing preparation. Concurrently, an orientation change detection task was performed. As a control area the vertex was stimulated. We found that stimulation of aIPS selectively modulates orientation sensitivity during action preparation, compared to control stimulation (vertex), negating the increased orientation sensitivity with grasping preparation over pointing preparation. We argue that aIPS is a critical part of the mechanism underlying perceptual modulations during action preparation. The present results and recent literature suggests that this action-modulated perception for hand movements is implemented through a cortical feedback connection between aIPS and early visual areas.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 04/2013; · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Our ability to regulate behavior based on past experience has thus far been examined using single movements. However, natural behavior typically involves a sequence of movements. Here, we examined the effect of previous trial type on the concurrent planning of sequential saccades using a unique paradigm. The task consisted of two trial types: no-shift trials, which implicitly encouraged the concurrent preparation of the second saccade in a subsequent trial; and target-shift trials, which implicitly discouraged the same in the next trial. Using the intersaccadic interval as an index of concurrent planning, we found evidence for context-based preparation of sequential saccades. We also used functional MRI-guided, single-pulse, transcranial magnetic stimulation on human subjects to test the role of the supplementary eye field (SEF) in the proactive control of sequential eye movements. Results showed that (i) stimulating the SEF in the previous trial disrupted the previous trial type-based preparation of the second saccade in the nonstimulated current trial, (ii) stimulating the SEF in the current trial rectified the disruptive effect caused by stimulation in the previous trial, and (iii) stimulating the SEF facilitated the preparation of second saccades based on previous trial type even when the previous trial was not stimulated. Taken together, we show how the human SEF is causally involved in proactive preparation of sequential saccades.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies investigated fMRI-guided repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) as an alternative treatment for auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH). This tailor-made treatment focuses at directing the rTMS coil to the location where hallucinatory activation is maximal, as identified with fMRI scans of individual patients. For the effective use of such treatment it is important to determine whether brain activation during AVH can be reliably detected using fMRI. Thirty-three psychotic patients indicated the presence of AVH during two subsequent scans. Reproducibility was measured by calculating 1) the distance between local maxima of significantly activated clusters and 2) percentage overlap of activation patterns over the two scans. These measurements were obtained both in single subjects and on group-level in five regions of interest (ROIs). ROIs consisted of the areas that were most frequently activated during AVH. Scans were considered reproducible if the distance between local maxima was smaller than 2cm, as rTMS-treatment may target an area of approximately 2-4cm. The median distance between local maxima was smaller than 2cm for all ROIs on single-subject level, as well as on group-level. In addition, on single-subject level median percentage overlap varied between 14 and 38% for the different ROIs. On group-level, this was substantially higher with percentages overlap varying between 34 and 98%. Based on these results, AVH-scans may be considered sufficiently reproducible to be suitable for fMRI-guided rTMS treatment.
    Schizophrenia Research 02/2013; · 4.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive tasks that do not change the required response for a stimulus over time ('consistent mapping') show dramatically improved performance after relative short periods of practice. This improvement is associated with reduced brain activity in a large network of brain regions, including left prefrontal and parietal cortex. The present study used fMRI-guided repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which has been shown to reduce processing efficacy, to examine if the reduced activity in these regions also reflects reduced involvement, or possibly increased efficiency. First, subjects performed runs of a Sternberg task in the scanner with novel or practiced target-sets. This data was used to identify individual sites for left prefrontal and parietal peak brain activity, as well as to examine the change in activity related to practice. Outside of the scanner, real and sham rTMS was applied at left prefrontal and parietal cortex to examine their involvement novel and practiced conditions. Prefrontal as well as parietal rTMS significantly reduced target accuracy for novel targets. Prefrontal, but not parietal, rTMS interference was significantly lower for practiced than novel target-sets. rTMS did not affect non-target accuracy, or reaction time in any condition. These results show that task practice in a consistent environment reduces involvement of the prefrontal cortex. Our findings suggest that prefrontal cortex is predominantly involved in target maintenance and comparison, as rTMS interference was only detectable for targets. Findings support process switching hypotheses that propose that practice creates the possibility to select a response without the need to compare with target items. Our results also support the notion that practice allows for redistribution of limited maintenance resources.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(12):e80256. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Although auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are a core symptom of schizophrenia, they also occur in non-psychotic individuals, in the absence of other psychotic, affective, cognitive and negative symptoms. AVH have been hypothesized to result from deviant integration of inferior frontal, parahippocampal and superior temporal brain areas. However, a direct link between dysfunctional connectivity and AVH has not yet been established. To determine whether hallucinations are indeed related to aberrant connectivity, AVH should be studied in isolation, for example in non-psychotic individuals with AVH. Method Resting-state connectivity was investigated in 25 non-psychotic subjects with AVH and 25 matched control subjects using seed regression analysis with the (1) left and (2) right inferior frontal, (3) left and (4) right superior temporal and (5) left parahippocampal areas as the seed regions. To correct for cardiorespiratory (CR) pulsatility rhythms in the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, heartbeat and respiration were monitored during scanning and the fMRI data were corrected for these rhythms using the image-based method for retrospective correction of physiological motion effects RETROICOR. RESULTS: In comparison with the control group, non-psychotic individuals with AVH showed increased connectivity between the left and the right superior temporal regions and also between the left parahippocampal region and the left inferior frontal gyrus. Moreover, this group did not show a negative correlation between the left superior temporal region and the right inferior frontal region, as was observed in the healthy control group. CONCLUSIONS: Aberrant connectivity of frontal, parahippocampal and superior temporal brain areas can be specifically related to the predisposition to hallucinate in the auditory domain.
    Psychological Medicine 11/2012; · 5.59 Impact Factor
  • S E Bosch, S F W Neggers, S Van der Stigchel
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    ABSTRACT: In order to execute a correct eye movement to a target in a search display, a saccade program toward the target element must be activated, while saccade programs toward distracting elements must be inhibited. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the role of the frontal eye fields (FEFs) in oculomotor competition. Functional magnetic resonance imaging-guided single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was administered over either the left FEF, the right FEF, or the vertex (control site) at 3 time intervals after target presentation, while subjects performed an oculomotor capture task. When TMS was applied over the FEF contralateral to the visual field where a target was presented, there was less interference of an ipsilateral distractor compared with FEF stimulation ipsilateral to the target's visual field or TMS over vertex. Furthermore, TMS over the FEFs decreased latencies of saccades to the contralateral visual field, irrespective of whether the saccade was directed to the target or to the distractor. These findings show that single-pulse TMS over the FEFs enhances the selection of a target in the contralateral visual field and decreases saccade latencies to the contralateral visual field.
    Cerebral Cortex 03/2012; · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to stop a prepared response (reactive inhibition) appears to depend on the degree to which stopping is expected (proactive inhibition). Functional MRI studies have shown that activation during proactive and reactive inhibition overlaps, suggesting that the whole neural network for reactive inhibition becomes already activated in anticipation of stopping. However, these studies measured proactive inhibition as the effect of stop-signal probability on activation during go trials. Therefore, activation could reflect expectation of a stop-signal (evoked by the stop-signal probability cue), but also violation of this expectation because stop-signals do not occur on go trials. We addressed this problem, using a stop-signal task in which the stop-signal probability cue and the go-signal were separated in time. Hence, we could separate activation during the cue, reflecting expectation of the stop-signal, from activation during the go-signal, reflecting expectation of the stop-signal or violation of that expectation. During the cue, the striatum, the supplementary motor complex (SMC), and the midbrain activated. During the go-signal, the right inferior parietal cortex (IPC) and the right inferior frontal cortex (IFC) activated. These findings suggest that the neural network previously associated with proactive inhibition can be subdivided into two components. One component, including the striatum, the SMC, and the midbrain, activated during the cue, implicating this network in proactive inhibition. Another component, consisting of the right IPC and the right IFC, activated during the go-signal. Rather than being involved in proactive inhibition, this network appears to be involved in processes associated with violation of expectations. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Human Brain Mapping 02/2012; · 6.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Almost all cortical areas are connected to the subcortical basal ganglia (BG) through parallel recurrent inhibitory and excitatory loops, exerting volitional control over automatic behavior. As this model is largely based on non-human primate research, we used high resolution functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate the functional and structural organization of the human (pre)frontal cortico-basal network controlling eye movements. Participants performed saccades in darkness, pro- and antisaccades and observed stimuli during fixation. We observed several bilateral functional subdivisions along the precentral sulcus around the human frontal eye fields (FEF): a medial and lateral zone activating for saccades in darkness, a more fronto-medial zone preferentially active for ipsilateral antisaccades, and a large anterior strip along the precentral sulcus activating for visual stimulus presentation during fixation. The supplementary eye fields (SEF) were identified along the medial wall containing all aforementioned functions. In the striatum, the BG area receiving almost all cortical input, all saccade related activation was observed in the putamen, previously considered a skeletomotor striatal subdivision. Activation elicited by the cue instructing pro or antisaccade trials was clearest in the medial FEF and right putamen. DTI fiber tracking revealed that the subdivisions of the human FEF complex are mainly connected to the putamen, in agreement with the fMRI findings. The present findings demonstrate that the human FEF has functional subdivisions somewhat comparable to non-human primates. However, the connections to and activation in the human striatum preferentially involve the putamen, not the caudate nucleus as is reported for monkeys. This could imply that fronto-striatal projections for the oculomotor system are fundamentally different between humans and monkeys. Alternatively, there could be a bias in published reports of monkey studies favoring the caudate nucleus over the putamen in the search for oculomotor functions.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e29517. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The pathophysiology of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) is still unclear. Cognitive as well as electrophysiological studies indicate that a defect in sensory feedback (corollary discharge) may contribute to the experience of AVH. This could result from disruption of the arcuate fasciculus, the major tract connecting frontal and temporo-parietal language areas. Previous diffusion tensor imaging studies indeed demonstrated abnormalities of this tract in schizophrenia patients with AVH. It is, however, difficult to disentangle specific associations with AVH in this patient group as many other factors, such as other positive and negative symptoms, medication or halted education could likewise have affected tract integrity. We therefore investigated AVH in relative isolation and studied a group of non-psychotic individuals with AVH as well as patients with AVH and non-hallucinating matched controls. We compared tract integrity of the arcuate fasiculus and of three other control tracts, between 35 non-psychotic individuals with AVH, 35 schizophrenia patients with AVH, and 36 controls using diffusion tensor imaging and magnetization transfer imaging. Both groups with AVH showed an increase in magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) in the arcuate fasciculus, but not in the other control tracts. In addition, a general decrease in fractional anisotropy (FA) for almost all bundles was observed in the patient group, but not in the non-psychotic individuals with AVH. As increased MTR in the arcuate fasciculus was present in both hallucinating groups, a specific association with AVH seems plausible. Decreases in FA, on the other hand, seem to be related to other disease processes of schizophrenia. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Human Brain Mapping 11/2011; · 6.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The cerebellum is a key area for movement control and sensory-motor plasticity. Its medial part is considered as the exclusive cerebellar center controlling the accuracy and adaptive calibration of saccadic eye movements. However, the contribution of other zones situated in its lateral part is unknown. We addressed this question in healthy adult volunteers by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The double-step target paradigm was used to adaptively lengthen or shorten saccades. TMS pulses over the right hemisphere of the cerebellum were delivered at 0, 30, or 60 ms after saccade detection in separate recording sessions. The effects on saccadic adaptation were assessed relative to a fourth session where TMS was applied to Vertex as a control site. First, TMS applied upon saccade detection before the adaptation phase reduced saccade accuracy. Second, TMS applied during the adaptation phase had a dual effect on saccadic plasticity: adaptation after-effects revealed a potentiation of the adaptive lengthening and a depression of the adaptive shortening of saccades. For the first time, we demonstrate that TMS on lateral cerebellum can influence plasticity mechanisms underlying motor performance. These findings also provide the first evidence that the human cerebellar hemispheres are involved in the control of saccade accuracy and in saccadic adaptation, with possibly different neuronal populations concerned in adaptive lengthening and shortening. Overall, these results require a reappraisal of current models of cerebellar contribution to oculomotor plasticity. Hum Brain Mapp, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
    Human Brain Mapping 06/2011; 33(7):1512 - 1525. · 6.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) is a common and stressful symptom of schizophrenia. Disrupted connectivity between frontal and temporo-parietal language areas, giving rise to the misattribution of inner speech, is speculated to underlie this phenomenon. Disrupted connectivity should be reflected in the microstructure of the arcuate fasciculi (AF); the main connection between frontal and temporo-parietal language areas. In this study we compared microstructural properties of the AF and three other fiber tracts (cortical spinal tract, cingulum and uncinate fasciculus), between 44 schizophrenia patients with chronic severe hallucinations and 42 control subjects using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and magnetic transfer imaging (MTI). The DTI scans were used to compute fractional anisotropy (FA) and to reconstruct the fiber bundles of interest, while the MTI scans were used to compute magnetic transfer ratio (MTR) values. The patient group showed a general decrease in FA for all bundles. In the arcuate fasciculus this decreased FA was coupled to a significant increase in MTR values. A correlation was found between mean MTR values in both arcuate fasciculi and the severity of positive symptoms. The combination of decreased FA and increased MTR values observed in the arcuate fasciculi in patients suggests increased free water concentrations, probably caused by degraded integrity of the axons or the supportive glia cells. This suggests that disintegrated fiber integrity in the connection between frontal and temporo-parietal language areas in the schizophrenia patients is associated with their liability for auditory verbal hallucinations.
    Schizophrenia Research 06/2011; 130(1-3):68-77. · 4.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are most characteristic for schizophrenia, they also occur in nonpsychotic individuals in the absence of a psychiatric or neurological disorder and in the absence of substance abuse. At present, it is unclear if AVH in these nonpsychotic individuals constitute the same phenomenon as AVH in psychotic patients. Comparing brain activation during AVH between nonpsychotic and psychotic individuals could provide important clues regarding this question. 21 nonpsychotic subjects with AVH and 21 matched psychotic patients indicated the presence of AVH during 3T functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning. To identify common areas of activation during the experience of AVH in both groups, a conjunction analysis was performed. In addition, a 2-sample t-test was employed to discover possible differences in AVH-related activation between the groups. Several common areas of activation were observed for the psychotic and nonpsychotic subjects during the experience of AVH, consisting of the bilateral inferior frontal gyri, insula, superior temporal gyri, supramarginal gyri and postcentral gyri, left precentral gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, superior temporal pole, and right cerebellum. No significant differences in AVH-related brain activation were present between the groups. The presence of multiple common areas of AVH-related activation in psychotic and nonpsychotic individuals, in the absence of significant differences, implicates the involvement of the same cortical network in the experience of AVH in both groups.
    Schizophrenia Bulletin 04/2011; 38(5):1074-82. · 8.80 Impact Factor
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    Tjerk P Gutteling, J Leon Kenemans, Sebastiaan F W Neggers
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    ABSTRACT: Preparing a goal directed movement often requires detailed analysis of our environment. When picking up an object, its orientation, size and relative distance are relevant parameters when preparing a successful grasp. It would therefore be beneficial if the motor system is able to influence early perception such that information processing needs for action control are met at the earliest possible stage. However, only a few studies reported (indirect) evidence for action-induced visual perception improvements. We therefore aimed to provide direct evidence for a feature-specific perceptual modulation during the planning phase of a grasping action. Human subjects were instructed to either grasp or point to a bar while simultaneously performing an orientation discrimination task. The bar could slightly change its orientation during grasping preparation. By analyzing discrimination response probabilities, we found increased perceptual sensitivity to orientation changes when subjects were instructed to grasp the bar, rather than point to it. As a control experiment, the same experiment was repeated using bar luminance changes, a feature that is not relevant for either grasping or pointing. Here, no differences in visual sensitivity between grasping and pointing were found. The present results constitute first direct evidence for increased perceptual sensitivity to a visual feature that is relevant for a certain skeletomotor act during the movement preparation phase. We speculate that such action-induced perception improvements are controlled by neuronal feedback mechanisms from cortical motor planning areas to early visual cortex, similar to what was recently established for spatial perception improvements shortly before eye movements.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(3):e17675. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cerebral language lateralization can be assessed in several ways. In healthy subjects, functional MRI (fMRI) during performance of a language task has evolved to be the most frequently applied method. Functional transcranial Doppler (fTCD) may provide a valid alternative, but has been used rarely. Both techniques have their own strengths and weaknesses and as a result may be applied in different fields of research. Until now, only one relatively small study (n = 13) investigated the correlation between lateralization indices (LIs) measured by fTCD and fMRI and showed a remarkably high correlation. To further evaluate the correlation between LIs measured with fTCD and fMRI, we compared LIs of 22 healthy subjects (12 left- and 10 right-handed) using the same word generation paradigm for the fTCD as for the fMRI experiment. LIs measured with fTCD were highly but imperfectly correlated with LIs measured with fMRI (Spearman's rho = 0.75, p < 0.001). The imperfectness of the correlation can partially be explained by methodological restrictions of fMRI as well as fTCD. Our results suggest that fTCD can be a valid alternative for fMRI to measure lateralization, particularly when costs or mobility are important factors in the study design.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2011; 5:31. · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuropsychological and imaging studies have shown that the left supramarginal gyrus (SMG) is specifically involved in processing spatial terms (e.g. above, left of), which locate places and objects in the world. The current fMRI study focused on the nature and specificity of representing spatial language in the left SMG by combining behavioral and neuronal activation data in blind and sighted individuals. Data from the blind provide an elegant way to test the supramodal representation hypothesis, i.e. abstract codes representing spatial relations yielding no activation differences between blind and sighted. Indeed, the left SMG was activated during spatial language processing in both blind and sighted individuals implying a supramodal representation of spatial and other dimensional relations which does not require visual experience to develop. However, in the absence of vision functional reorganization of the visual cortex is known to take place. An important consideration with respect to our finding is the amount of functional reorganization during language processing in our blind participants. Therefore, the participants also performed a verb generation task. We observed that only in the blind occipital areas were activated during covert language generation. Additionally, in the first task there was functional reorganization observed for processing language with a high linguistic load. As the visual cortex was not specifically active for spatial contents in the first task, and no reorganization was observed in the SMG, the latter finding further supports the notion that the left SMG is the main node for a supramodal representation of verbal spatial relations.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e24253. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • European Neuropsychopharmacology - EUR NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOL. 01/2011; 21.

Publication Stats

1k Citations
234.69 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2014
    • University Medical Center Utrecht
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
    • University of Coimbra
      Coímbra, Coimbra, Portugal
  • 2013
    • University of Cambridge
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2008–2013
    • Radboud University Nijmegen
      • Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour
      Nymegen, Gelderland, Netherlands
  • 2001–2011
    • Universiteit Utrecht
      • Division of Experimental Psychology
      Utrecht, Provincie Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2003
    • University of Dundee
      • School of Psychology
      Dundee, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 2002
    • Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Utrecht
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
    • University of Groningen
      Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
  • 1999
    • Max Planck Society
      München, Bavaria, Germany