I am a DPhil student funded by the Medical Sciences Graduate School Studentship and the Medical Research Council. I am interested in plasticity in the sensorimotor cortex. In my research I use 3T fMRI, ultra-high field 7T fMRI, and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to investigate how the brain changes following a loss of sensory input and motor output. Amputation serves as a powerful model for this brain plasticity.
About 80% of the patients who have undergone an amputation in the past suffer from a condition called phantom pain, which is characterised as experiencing pain in the hand that is no longer physically present. We believe that phantom pain is related to plasticity in the brain. In my current research I investigate whether we can alleviate phantom pain by applying non-invasive brain-stimulation (tDCS), and what brain changes are related to phantom pain relief.
I am also conducting a study where we research the characteristics of maintained brain activation following limb loss. When a hand is physically present there is a clear representation of the hand in the brain, where the fingers are represented separately and in a very organised manner. I study whether people that have been missing their hand for decades, but can still move the fingers separately (phantom hands), also show this map in the brain.
If you are suffering from limb loss, and would like to learn about participating in our studies, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motor correlates of phantom limb pain.
Kikkert S. et al, (2017), Cortex, 95, 29 - 36
Revealing the neural fingerprints of a missing hand.
Kikkert S. et al, (2016), Elife, 5