Welcome to my website. I currently work as an assistant professor at Leiden University, the Netherlands. On this website you can find information about the research I am involved in and regular updates of publications.

In my research I mainly focus on the neuropsychology of spatial cognition, more specifically on navigation ability and spatial impairments. In June 2015 I switched from Utrecht University to Leiden University to continue this line of research.

I set up a virtual reality lab, to study navigation in realistic settings. My studies focus on navigation ability in healthy individuals as well as in brain damaged patients. The studies that I am currently involved in mainly concern the assessment of the cognitive components and neural correlates of navigation and potential causes of individual differences in navigation ability. In particular, we apply this knowledge to neuropsychological patient studies, as they commonly show navigation impairments. We aim to develop means to assess and train navigation impairments in these patients. With a Veni grant, provided by NWO (Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research) I have specifically studied the role of order memory in navigation.

‘Navigeren kun je leren’
With my lab, I have set up the public experiment ‘Navigeren kun je leren’ (Navigation can be learned). In collaboration with the national event ‘Weekend van de wetenschap’ (Weekend of Science) we have constructed the website http://www.navigerenkunjeleren.nl, where online visitors can participate in our experiment and can find background information on the topic of navigation. Moreover, we provide personalized tips on how to improve navigation ability and show some examples of training exercises to do so.

Virtual reality and serious gaming
In most of my experiments, I make use of virtual reality techniques and serious gaming principles. Therefore, I also focus on the use of these techniques in a more fundamental way: what are the differences between measurements in the real and a virtual world? How can we make use of those differences? How can we optimally benefit from serious gaming properties in neuropsychological training? I try to answer these questions with regard to spatial cognition, but also cognition in general and in rehabilitation settings.

Spatial relation processing
The research I did for my doctoral thesis (2006-2010) concerns the processing of spatial relations and how this is linked to lateralization in the human brain. Spatial relations are commonly divided into categorical relations, “left of” “above”, and coordinate relations, “2 meters apart” “1 inch away”. Many studies have shown a left hemisphere advantage for categorical relation processing and a right hemisphere advantage for coordinate relation processing.

I have mainly addressed three aspects of spatial relation processing: what the characteristics are of categorical and coordinate processing in working memory, how differences in strategy and stimulus format affect lateralization, and in what way this processing is also present for natural scenes.

For more details, you can download the discussion of my thesis here (85 kB) or my whole thesis here (16 MB) or contact me by email c.j.m.van.der.ham@fsw.leidenuniv.nl for a free hardcopy.