About Hella

I have a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, specialized in adults.  Due to my interest in developmental processes I complemented my psychology studies with courses in Educational Sciences.

Interest neuropsychology:
Throughout my bachelor and master programmes I developed a great interest in neuropsychology. The following years I gained relevant experience in neuropsychological diagnosis and neurorehabilitation in patients with stroke, traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative disorders as a neuropsychologist in RevArte Rehabilitation Hospital. In addition to my work with patients, I was interested in translational research and was surprised by the gap between scientific research and clinical practice. My goal is to bridge this gap as a scientist-practioner. While working with patients who survived an acquired brain injury I noticed that some patients experience a heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli such as light or sound. Intrigued by these symptoms I started my doctoral project. In addition to my research work, I work as a clinical neuropsychologist on a voluntary basis to gain more clinical experience.

PhD project:
Atypical sensory sensitivity after stroke: a multi-level analysis

Some stroke survivors report post-stroke changes in sensory sensitivity (i.e. they have become hypersensitive to light, sound or smell). These symptoms have received little scientific attention.
It thus remains unclear to what extent post-stroke atypical sensory sensitivity is due to altered behavioural (the processing of sensory stimuli) and altered neural sensory sensitivity (the neural response to sensory stimuli). The main goal of this project is to investigate the neural and behavioural markers of self-reported changes in sensory sensitivity after stroke. First, we will use a neuropsychological tool to assess subjective sensory sensitivity in a stroke population. An existing tool will be adapted to be maximally inclusive, e.g. suitable for patients with aphasia, and normative data will be collected in neurotypical individuals age-matched to the stroke population.
Second, we will disentangle the behavioural mechanisms of atypical subjective sensory sensitivity using computational modelling of behavioural data. Lastly, we will identify the neural mechanisms of post-stroke atypical subjective sensory sensitivity using structural and functional neuroimaging.

Publication list:

Journal articles (peer reviewed)

Van der Donck, S., Dzhelyova, M., Vettori, S., Thielen, H., Steyaert, J., Rossion, B., Boets, B. (2019). Fast Periodic Visual Stimulation EEG Reveals Reduced Neural Sensitivity to Fearful Faces in Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49 (11), 4658-4673. doi: 10.1007/s10803-019-04172-0 Open Access

Thielen, H., Gillebert, C.R. (2019). Sensory sensitivity: Should we consider attention in addition to prediction? COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE, 10 (3), 158-160. doi: 10.1080/17588928.2019.1593125 Open Access

Thielen, H., Verleysen, G., Huybrechts, S., Lafosse, C., Gillebert, C. (2019). Flemish Normative Data for the Buschke Selective Reminding Test. Psychologica Belgica, 59 (1), 58-77. doi: 10.5334/pb.486 Open Access



Thielen, H., Van der Donck, S., Vettori, S., Dzhelyova, M., Steyaert, J., Rossion, B., Boets, B. (2018). Investigating emotional face processing in children with autism using fast periodic visual stimulation eeg. Presented at the BAPS 2018, Gent, 18 May 2018-18 May 2018.

Thielen, H., Verleysen, G., Huybrechts, S., Lafosse, C., & Gillebert, C.R. (2019, September). Age-associated verbal memory impairment differs according to education level. Oral presentation at the meeting of the Federation of the European Societies of Neuropsychology (FESN), Milan, Italy.

Thielen, H., Lafosse, C., & Gillebert, C.R. (2019, June) I am overwhelmed – Atypical sensory sensitivity after stroke.  Poster presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Flemish Neuropsychological Society (Vlaamse Vereniging voor Neuropsychologie), Brussels, Belgium.

Thielen, H., Verleysen, G., Huybrechts, S., Lafosse, C., & Gillebert, C.R. (2019, May) Verbal memory performance in the Flemish population: normative data for the Buschke Selective Reminding Test. Oral presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Belgian Association for Psychological Sciences, Liege, Belgium.