The current activities at the Cognitive Neuroscience Section focus on two main lines of research:
IDENTIFING, BY MEANS OF TMS-EEG COMBINATION, DIAGNOSTIC AND PROGNOSTIC MARKERS OF CORTICAL REACTIVITY AND CONNECTIVITY
The main goal of this line of research is to identify specific neurophysiological markers derived from indexes of reactivity and cortico-cortical connectivity, both in the neurological and in the psychiatric field. This objective will be pursued by using an innovative integrated multimodal approach that involves the combination of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) with electroencephalographic recording (EEG). The TMS-EEG co-registration is a non-invasive neurophysiological method that allows to investigate with high accuracy the reactivity and the connectivity of cortical networks. The identification of neurophysiological markers of reactivity and connectivity will allow to understand the neurobiological mechanisms underlying different pathologies, as well as to obtain useful indicators for the diagnosis and clinical prognosis. Moreover, thanks to these indices it will be possible to obtain surrogate markers of response to different types of treatment, in order to understand the neural basis of clinical improvement.
The following projects fall within this line of research:
– Cortical excitability and connectivity in the lifespan: a neurophysiological study
– Neuroplasticity and Alzheimer’s disease: integrated approach to identify biological and neurophysiological markers
– Cortico-cortical signal transmission and brain connectivity alterations at prodromal stage and during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease: a multimodal approach of TMS-EEG and advanced MRI
– Temporal and spatial features of interhemispheric information transfer in multiple sclerosis: a multimodal approach of TMS-EEG coregistration, MRI and motor learning
– The motor bases of joint actions
INVESTIGATING THE THERAPEUTIC POTENTIAL OF rTMS IN PSYCHIATRIC AND NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS
Since rTMS is able to modulate the spontaneous activity of the brain, its repeated application over time is supposed to restore the correct functioning of the compromised cortical circuits in psychiatric and neurological pathologies. To date, however, the scientific literature provides certain evidence of its efficacy only in the treatment of pain and drug-resistant depression (Lefaucheur et al., Clinical Neurophysiology 2014). The available studies are often heterogeneous and show various confounding factors, such as the inadequate sample size and the lack of satisfactory controls. To respond to the need of more in-depth investigations into the clinical and rehabilitative potential of rTMS, this research line comprises controlled and rigorous research protocols in patients with psychiatric or neurological diseases.
– Novel tailored network-based rTMS treatments in Alzheimer’s disease: an integrated multi-imaging approach
Project funded by Italian Ministry of Health, Young Researcher Grant – Ricerca Finalizzata 2016 (GR-2016-02364718).