NAD Fellow year: 2023

Laura De Herde

MSc in Biomedical Sciences, Maastricht University

PhD project

Project title
hEAR me out: Modulation of interoceptive channels by non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation
PhD lab
Andrade Lab, Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain
Aalborg University
Main supervisor
Associate Professor Daniel Ciampi de Andrade
Associate Professor Steffen Frahm, Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain, Aalborg University
Professor Hartwig Siebner, Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Copenhagen University Hospitals - Amager and Hvidovre

Lab rotations - pre-PhD year

Lab Rotation 1

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Technical University of Denmark w/PI Professor Axel Thielscher

The focus of Laura’s rotation will be improving her skills within coding and simulation.

Lab Rotation 2

Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR), Copenhagen University Hospital Amager & Hvidovre w/PI Professor Hartwig Roman Siebner

During her 10-week rotation, Laura will be introduced to human transcranial focal ultrasound stimulation (TFUS) and how it may be used as a non-invasive neuro-modulatory tool. In addition, Laura will be gaining hands-on experience with processing of electroencephalography data acquired in combination with transcranial magnetic stimulation to study sensorimotor control. To achieve this, Laura will utilise the knowledge acquired from her previous lab rotation and build on it through supervision and participation in DRCMR’s intra-mural courses.

Lab Rotation 3

Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain, Aalborg University w/PI Associate Professor Daniel Ciampi de Andrade

At Center for the Neuroplasticity and Pain, the aim is to identify and modulate pain neuroplasticity. Within this context, Laura will be exploring non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation and how to modulate its analgesic and neurovascular effects. To set up the experiment, she is collaborating with engineers and physicians.

Meet Laura De Herde

Laura De Herde obtained her MSc in Biomedical Sciences with a specialisation in neuromodulation from Maastricht University, Netherlands in 2021. Since graduating, Laura has been working at NeuroRestore in Lausanne, Switzerland. Focusing on the use of spinal cord stimulation in the rehabilitation of paraplegics and tetraplegics, Laura first started as a research intern, and then worked as a clinical trial coordinator and research assistant.

Laura is especially interested in non-invasive neuromodulation:

“I feel like we are using means that are not optimal for the body. (…) Whether it is motor or cognitive disorders, we are using a lot of pharmacological means which have many side effects, whilst we could be using invasive or non-invasive methodologies to help patients get better ‘by themselves’. My interest is in pushing those methodologies forward. Maybe in their combination, but right now, primarily in the non-invasive field – really exploring how we can personalise protocols. For example in depression treatments and maybe in movement disorders – if we can combine it with, for example, spinal cord stimulation.”

When asked what motivated her to apply for an NAD fellowship, Laura emphasises the lab rotations during the pre-PhD year and the freedom to plan and shape your own PhD project: “What really attracted me to NAD is that it is very orientated towards the students and it is trying to bring out their strengths. I love how collaborative it is (…) It allows for creativity and independence, yet not too much – you feel like you are guided through it.”

Laura is curiosity-driven and loves a challenge. She particularly enjoys the problem-solving aspect of research: “I find this problem-solving aspect so much fun. You will set something up, and it may not work from the get-go. You are going to have a problem, you are going to need to find a solution to it. You are going to try that again, and there is going to be another problem. (…) At one point, it hopefully works. I find that process extremely rewarding.”

Laura will be doing her first lab rotation with Professor Axel Thielscher of the Neurophysics group at the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, DTU, especially focusing on improving her skills within coding and simulation.