About Sofie

Profile, degree and funding

Sofie obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (2015) and Experimental Psychology (Theory and Research; 2016) at KU Leuven. Sofie obtained her doctoral degree at KU Leuven in 2022 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Neuropsychology Lab. In 2016, Sofie obtained a excellence scholarship from Fonds Roger Dillemans (KU Leuven) for doing a second master (Master in Psychology: Theory and Research). In 2018, she obtained a PhD fellowship at Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO) and in 2022 a Postdoctoral Mandate fellowship from KU Leuven to start her postdoc at the Neuropsychology Lab. In addition, Sofie is working as a clinical psychologist at PraxisP (KU Leuven) for the assessment and intervention of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD. Sofie is fascinated by how we can translate fundamental research findings into clinical practice and vice versa.

PhD project

Sofie obtained her PhD in the research group of School Psychology and Development in Context under supervision of professors Patricia Bijttebier, Karla Van Leeuwen, and Michael Pluess. In her PhD Sofie focused on individual differences in environmental sensitivity at multiple levels of analysis in children and adolescents. Specifically, she developed a self-report questionnaire (Highly Sensitive Child scale-21 item version) and validated an observational measure (Highly Sensitive Child-Rating System) to measure individual differences in Sensory Processing Sensitivity (or Highly Sensitive Personality) in preschoolers, children, and adolescents. In addition, she examined whether we can characterize individual differences in environmental sensitivity at multiple levels of analyses, that are, behavioral, genetic, and physiological levels.

Postdoctoral project and interest in neuropsychology

Sofie’s interests in the largely unexplored neurobiological basis of environmental sensitivity has driven her to continue her research in the Neuropsychology Lab. In her postdoc Sofie focusses on individual differences in sensory sensitivity in both neurotypical (Sensory Processing Sensitivity or highly sensitive personality) and atypical (e.g., autism) populations. In both populations, self-reported hypersensitivities are associated with low sensory thresholds, great awareness of details, and feelings of overstimulation (Aron & Aron, 1997; Ward, 2019). Yet, the behavioral and neural mechanisms of self-reported (i.e., subjective) sensory sensitivities in the neurotypical population and how these relate to self-reported sensitivities and their behavioral and neural mechanisms in autism have not been investigated. Therefore the overarching aim of Sofie’s postdoctoral project is to unravel variations in sensory sensitivity across multiple levels of analysis (subjective, behavioral, and neural level) in the neurotypical (Sensory Processing Sensitivity) and neuroatypical (autism) population. The project advances researchers’ fundamental understanding of the neural and behavioral basis (bottom-up and/or top-down processing by using behavioral tasks (e.g., TVA) and neural paradigms (EEG ERPs and neural gating) of subjective sensory sensitivity within individuals.