Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive

Cesena, Italy

Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive

Cesena, Italy
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Cardini F.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Tajadura-Jimenez A.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Serino A.,Centro studi e ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Serino A.,University of Bologna | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance | Year: 2013

Understanding other people's feelings in social interactions depends on the ability to map onto our body the sensory experiences we observed on other people's bodies. It has been shown that the perception of tactile stimuli on the face is improved when concurrently viewing a face being touched. This Visual Remapping of Touch (VRT) is enhanced the more similar others are perceived to be to the self and is strongest when viewing one's face. Here, we ask whether altering self-other boundaries can in turn change the VRT effect. We used the enfacement illusion, which relies on synchronous interpersonal multisensory stimulation (IMS), to manipulate self-other boundaries. Following synchronous, but not asynchronous, IMS, the self-related enhancement of the VRT extended to the other individual. These findings suggest that shared multisensory experiences represent one key way to overcome the boundaries between self and others, as evidenced by changes in somatosensory processing of tactile stimuli on one's own face when concurrently viewing another person's face being touched © 2012 American Psychological Association.


Borgomaneri S.,University of Groningen | Borgomaneri S.,Instituto Of Ricovero E Cura A Carattere Scientifico Fondazione Santa Lucia | Gazzola V.,University of Groningen | Gazzola V.,Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and science | And 3 more authors.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Although it is widely assumed that emotions prime the body for action, the effects of visual perception of natural emotional scenes on the temporal dynamics of the human motor system have scarcely been investigated. Here, we used single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to assess motor excitability during observation and categorization of positive, neutral and negative pictures from the International Affective Picture System database. Motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) from TMS of the left motor cortex were recorded from hand muscles, at 150 and 300 ms after picture onset. In the early temporal condition we found an increase in hand motor excitability that was specific for the perception of negative pictures. This early negative bias was predicted by interindividual differences in the disposition to experience aversive feelings (personal distress) in interpersonal emotional contexts. In the later temporal condition, we found that MEPs were similarly increased for both positive and negative pictures, suggesting an increased reactivity to emotionally arousing scenes. By highlighting the temporal course of motor excitability during perception of emotional pictures, our study provides direct neurophysiological support for the evolutionary notions that emotion perception is closely linked to action systems and that emotionally negative events require motor reactions to be more urgently mobilized. © The Author (2013). Published by Oxford University Press.


Maier M.E.,University of Konstanz | Maier M.E.,University of Bologna | Maier M.E.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Yeung N.,University of Oxford | Steinhauser M.,University of Konstanz
NeuroImage | Year: 2011

The present study investigated adjustments of selective attention following errors and their relation to the error-related negativity (Ne/ERN), a correlate of errors in event-related potentials. We hypothesized that, if post-error adjustments reflect an adaptive mechanism that should prevent the occurrence of further errors, then adjustments of attentional selectivity should be observed only following errors due to insufficient selective attention. To test this, a four-choice flanker task was used in which errors due to insufficient selective attention (flanker errors) and other errors (nonflanker errors) could be distinguished. We found strong adjustments of selective attention following flanker errors but not following nonflanker errors. Moreover, the Ne/ERN amplitude was correlated with adjustments of selective attention on a trial-by-trial basis. The results provide support for the notion that the Ne/ERN is a correlate of adaptive adjustments following errors. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Avenanti A.,University of Bologna | Avenanti A.,Centro studi e ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Avenanti A.,Instituto Of Ricovero E Cura A Carattere Scientifico Fondazione Santa Lucia | Candidi M.,Instituto Of Ricovero E Cura A Carattere Scientifico Fondazione Santa Lucia | And 3 more authors.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2013

Neurophysiological and imaging studies have shown that seeing the actions of other individuals brings about the vicarious activation of motor regions involved in performing the same actions. While this suggests a simulative mechanism mediating the perception of others' actions, one cannot use such evidence to make inferences about the functional significance of vicarious activations. Indeed, a central aim in social neuroscience is to comprehend how vicarious activations allow the understanding of other people's behavior, and this requires to use stimulation or lesion methods to establish causal links from brain activity to cognitive functions. In the present work we review studies investigating the effects of transient manipulations of brain activity or stable lesions in the motor system on individuals' ability to perceive and understand the actions of others. We conclude there is now compelling evidence that neural activity in the motor system is critical for such cognitive ability. More research using causal methods, however, is needed in order to disclose the limits and the conditions under which vicarious activations are required to perceive and understand actions of others as well as their emotions and somatic feelings. © 2013 Avenanti, Candidi and Urgesi.


Cecere R.,University of Bologna | Cecere R.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Bertini C.,University of Bologna | Bertini C.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2013

The visual processing of emotional faces is subserved by both a cortical and a subcortical route. To investigate the specific contribution of these two functional pathways, two groups of neurologically healthy humans were tested using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). In Experiment 1, participants received sham and active cathodal-inhibitory tDCS over the left occipital cortex, while, in control Experiment 2, participants received sham and active cathodal-inhibitory tDCS over the vertex, to exclude any unspecific effect of tDCS. After tDCS, participants performed a go/no-go task responding to happy or fearful target faces presented in the left visual field, while backwardly masked faces (emotionally congruent, incongruent, or neutral) were concurrently displayed in the right visual field. After both suppressing activity in the vertex(Experiment2)and sham stimulation (Experiment1and2)a reduction of reaction times was found for pairs of emotionally congruent stimuli. However, after suppressing the activity in the left occipital cortex, the congruency-dependent response facilitation disappeared, while a specific facilitative affect was evident when masked fearful faces were coupled with happy target faces. These results parallel the performances of hemianopic patients and suggest that when the occipital cortex is damaged or inhibited, and the visual processing for emotional faces is mainly dependent on the activation of the "low road" subcortical route, fearful faces represent the only visually processed stimuli capable of facilitating a behavioral response. This effect might reflect an adaptive mechanism implemented by the brain to quickly react to potential threats before their conscious identification. © 2013 the authors.


Moretto G.,University of Bologna | Moretto G.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Ladavas E.,University of Bologna | Mattioli F.,Spedali Civili | Di Pellegrino G.,University of Bologna
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience | Year: 2010

Converging evidence suggests that emotion processing mediated by ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) is necessary to prevent personal moral violations. In moral dilemmas, for example, patients with lesions in vmPFC aremore willing than normal controls to approve harmful actions that maximize good consequences (e.g., utilitarian moral judgments). Yet, none of the existing studies has measured subjects' emotional responses while they considered moral dilemmas. Therefore, a direct link between emotion processing and moral judgment is still lacking. Here, vmPFC patients and control participants considered moral dilemmas while skin conductance response (SCR) was measured as a somatic index of affective state. Replicating previous evidence, vmPFC patients approved more personal moral violations than did controls. Critically, we found that, unlike control participants, vmPFC patients failed to generate SCRs before endorsing personal moral violations. In addition, such anticipatory SCRs correlated negatively with the frequency of utilitarian judgments in normal participants. These findings provide direct support to the hypothesis that the vmPFC promotes moral behavior by mediating the anticipation of the emotional consequences of personal moral violations. © 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Maier M.E.,University of Bologna | Maier M.E.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | di Pellegrino G.,University of Bologna | di Pellegrino G.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience | Year: 2012

Recent brain imaging studies have implicated the rostral ACC (rACC) in the resolution of conflict between competing response tendencies in emotional task contexts, but not in neutral task contexts. This study tested the hypothesis that the rACC is necessary for such context-specific conflict adaptation. To this end, a group of patients with lesions of the rACC, a group of brain-damaged controls, and a group of normal controls classified the emotional expression (emotional task context) or the gender (neutral task context) of faces while ignoring congruent and incongruent words written across the faces. In all three groups, performance was worse with incongruent as compared with congruent stimuli in both task contexts. In the two control groups, this congruency effect was reduced following incongruent trials in both task contexts. By contrast, the rACC group displayed such conflict adaptation only in the neutral, but not in the emotional, task context. These results show that the rACC is necessary for conflict adaptation in emotional but not in neutral task contexts and suggest that the regulation of behavior is context specific. © 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Maier M.E.,University of Bologna | Maier M.E.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Di Pellegrino G.,University of Bologna | Di Pellegrino G.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Steinhauser M.,University of Konstanz
Psychophysiology | Year: 2012

The present study investigated whether the error-related negativity, an electrophysiological marker for performance monitoring, reflects (1) the expectancy of errors, or (2) the significance of errors for the current task goal. In the first case, a larger error-related negativity is predicted for less expected errors, whereas in the second case, a larger error-related negativity is predicted for errors with greater significance. To test these predictions, we varied flanker size in a flanker task. With large flankers, more errors occurred by executing the response associated with the flankers (flanker errors) leading to a greater expectancy of flanker errors. As revealed by a multinomial model, these additional flanker errors represented highly significant attention errors, leading to an increased error significance. The error-related negativity was larger for flanker errors with large flankers, which supports the error significance account. © 2012 Society for Psychophysiological Research.


Sellitto M.,University of Bologna | Sellitto M.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Ciaramelli E.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Di Pellegrino G.,University of Bologna | Di Pellegrino G.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2010

Choices are often intertemporal, requiring tradeoff of short-term and long-term outcomes. In such contexts, humans may prefer small rewards delivered immediately to larger rewards delivered after a delay, reflecting temporal discounting (TD) of delayed outcomes. The medial orbitofrontal cortex(mOFC)is consistently activated during intertemporal choice, yet its role remains unclear. Here, patients with lesions in the mOFC (mOFC patients), control patients with lesions outside the frontal lobe, and healthy individuals chose hypothetically between small-immediate and larger-delayed rewards. The type of reward varied across three TD tasks, including both primary (food) and secondary (money and discount vouchers) rewards. We found that damage to mOFC increased significantly the preference for small-immediate over larger-delayed rewards, resulting in steeper TD of future rewards in mOFC patients compared with the control groups. This held for both primary and secondary rewards. All participants, including mOFC patients, were more willing to wait for delayed money and discount vouchers than for delayed food, suggesting that mOFC patients' (impatient) choices were not due merely to poor motor impulse control or consideration of the goods at stake. These findings provide the first evidence in humans that mOFC is necessary for valuation and preference of delayed rewards for intertemporal choice. Copyright © 2010 the authors.


Bertini C.,University of Bologna | Bertini C.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Cecere R.,University of Bologna | Cecere R.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | And 2 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2013

The ability to process unseen emotional signals might offer an evolutionary advantage in enabling threat-detection. In the present study, patients with visual field defects, without any subjective awareness of stimuli presented in the blind field and performing at the chance level in two alternative discrimination tasks (Experiment 1), were tested with go-no go tasks where they were asked to discriminate the emotional valence (Experiment 2) or the gender (Experiment 3) of faces displayed in the intact field, during the concurrent presentation of emotional faces in the blind field. The results showed a facilitative effect when fearful faces were presented in the blind field, both when the emotional content of the stimuli was relevant (Experiment 2) and irrelevant (Experiment 3) to the task. These findings are in contrast with performances of healthy subjects and patients tested in classical blindsight investigations, who showed response facilitation for congruent pairs of emotional stimuli. The observed implicit visual processing for unseen fearful stimuli might represent an adaptive mechanism for the implementation of efficient defensive responses, probably mediated by a spared sub-cortical and short-latency pathway. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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