Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive

Cesena, Italy

Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive

Cesena, Italy

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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.

Borgomaneri S.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Borgomaneri S.,Instituto Of Ricovero E Cura A Carattere Scientifico | Borgomaneri S.,University of Groningen | Gazzola V.,University of Groningen | And 4 more authors.
Brain Stimulation | Year: 2012

Background: Perceiving and understanding emotional cues is critical for survival. Using the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) previous TMS studies have found that watching humans in emotional pictures increases motor excitability relative to seeing landscapes or household objects, suggesting that emotional cues may prime the body for action. Objective/Hypothesis: Here we tested whether motor facilitation to emotional pictures may reflect the simulation of the human motor behavior implied in the pictures occurring independently of its emotional valence. Methods: Motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) to single-pulse TMS of the left motor cortex were recorded from hand muscles during observation and categorization of emotional and neutral pictures. In experiment 1 participants watched neutral, positive and negative IAPS stimuli, while in experiment 2, they watched pictures depicting human emotional (joyful, fearful), neutral body movements and neutral static postures. Results: Experiment 1 confirms the increase in excitability for emotional IAPS stimuli found in previous research and shows, however, that more implied motion is perceived in emotional relative to neutral scenes. Experiment 2 shows that motor excitability and implied motion scores for emotional and neutral body actions were comparable and greater than for static body postures. Conclusions: In keeping with embodied simulation theories, motor response to emotional pictures may reflect the simulation of the action implied in the emotional scenes. Action simulation may occur independently of whether the observed implied action carries emotional or neutral meanings. Our study suggests the need of controlling implied motion when exploring motor response to emotional pictures of humans. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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 | Leo F.,University of Bologna | Leo F.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | And 4 more authors.
European Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2010

The visual and auditory systems often concur to create a unified perceptual experience and to determine the localization of objects in the external world. Co-occurring auditory and visual stimuli in spatial coincidence are known to enhance performance of auditory localization due to the integration of stimuli from different sensory channels (i.e. multisensory integration). However, auditory localization of audiovisual stimuli presented at spatial disparity might also induce a mislocalization of the sound towards the visual stimulus (i.e. ventriloquism effect). Using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation we tested the role of right temporoparietal (rTPC), right occipital (rOC) and right posterior parietal (rPPC) cortex in an auditory localization task in which indices of ventriloquism and multisensory integration were computed. We found that suppression of rTPC excitability by means of continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) reduced multisensory integration. No similar effect was found for cTBS over rOC. Moreover, inhibition of rOC, but not of rTPC, suppressed the visual bias in the contralateral hemifield. In contrast, cTBS over rPPC did not produce any modulation of ventriloquism or integrative effects. The double dissociation found in the present study suggests that ventriloquism and audiovisual multisensory integration are functionally independent phenomena and may be underpinned by partially different neural circuits. © 2010 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Canzoneri E.,University of Bologna | Canzoneri E.,Centro studi e ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Magosso E.,University of Bologna | Serino A.,University of Bologna | Serino A.,Centro studi e ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: We physically interact with external stimuli when they occur within a limited space immediately surrounding the body, i.e., Peripersonal Space (PPS). In the primate brain, specific fronto-parietal areas are responsible for the multisensory representation of PPS, by integrating tactile, visual and auditory information occurring on and near the body. Dynamic stimuli are particularly relevant for PPS representation, as they might refer to potential harms approaching the body. However, behavioural tasks for studying PPS representation with moving stimuli are lacking. Here we propose a new dynamic audio-tactile interaction task in order to assess the extension of PPS in a more functionally and ecologically valid condition. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants vocally responded to a tactile stimulus administered at the hand at different delays from the onset of task-irrelevant dynamic sounds which gave the impression of a sound source either approaching or receding from the subject's hand. Results showed that a moving auditory stimulus speeded up the processing of a tactile stimulus at the hand as long as it was perceived at a limited distance from the hand, that is within the boundaries of PPS representation. The audio-tactile interaction effect was stronger when sounds were approaching compared to when sounds were receding. Conclusion/Significance: This study provides a new method to dynamically assess PPS representation: The function describing the relationship between tactile processing and the position of sounds in space can be used to estimate the location of PPS boundaries, along a spatial continuum between far and near space, in a valuable and ecologically significant way. © 2012 Canzoneri et al.

Cecere R.,University of Bologna | Cecere R.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Cecere R.,Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology | Bertini C.,University of Bologna | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Visual threat-related signals are not only processed via a cortical geniculo-striatal pathway to the amygdala but also via a subcortical colliculo-pulvinar-amygdala pathway, which presumably mediates implicit processing of fearful stimuli. Indeed, hemianopic patients with unilateral damage to the geniculo-striatal pathway have been shown to respond faster to seen happy faces in their intact visual field when unseen fearful faces were concurrently presented in their blind field [Bertini, C., Cecere, R., & Làdavas, E. I amblind, but I “see” fear. Cortex, 49, 985–993, 2013]. This behavioral facilitation in the presence of unseen fear might reflect enhanced processing of consciously perceived faces because of early activation of the subcortical pathway for implicit fear perception, which possibly leads to a modulation of cortical activity. To test this hypothesis, we examined ERPs elicited by fearful and happy faces presented to the intact visual field of right and left hemianopic patients, whereas fearful, happy, or neutral faces were concurrently presented in their blind field. Results showed that the amplitude of the N170 elicited by seen happy faces was selectively increased when an unseen fearful face was concurrently presented in the blind field of right hemianopic patients. These results suggest that when the geniculo-striate visual pathway is lesioned, the rapid and implicit processing of threat signals can enhance facial encoding. Notably, the N170 modulation was only observed in left-lesioned patients, favoring the hypothesis that implicit subcortical processing of fearful signals can influence face encoding only when the right hemisphere is intact. © 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Anelli F.,University of Bologna | Anelli F.,Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri Hospital IRCCS | Ciaramelli E.,University of Bologna | Ciaramelli E.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | And 3 more authors.
Neural Plasticity | Year: 2016

Mental time travel (MTT), the ability to travel mentally back and forward in time in order to reexperience past events and preexperience future events, is crucial in human cognition. As we move along life, MTT may be changed accordingly. However, the relation between re- and preexperiencing along the lifespan is still not clear. Here, young and older adults underwent a psychophysical paradigm assessing two different components of MTT: self-projection, which is the ability to project the self towards a past or a future location of the mental time line, and self-reference, which is the ability to determine whether events are located in the past or future in reference to that given self-location. Aged individuals performed worse in both self-projection to the future and self-reference to future events compared to young individuals. In addition, aging decreased older adults' preference for personal compared to nonpersonal events. These results demonstrate the impact of MTT and self-processing on subjective time processing in healthy aging. Changes in memory functions in aged people may therefore be related not only to memory per se, but also to the relations of memory and self. © 2016 Filomena Anelli et al.

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.

PubMed | Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive and University of Bologna
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) | Year: 2015

In everyday life, people often find themselves facing difficult decisions between options that are equally attractive. Cognitive dissonance theory states that after making a difficult choice between 2 equally preferred options, individuals no longer find the alternatives similarly desirable. Rather, they often change their existing preferences to align more closely with the choice they have just made. Despite the relevance of cognitive dissonance in modulating behavior, little is known about the brain processes crucially involved in choice-induced preference change. In the present study, we applied cathodal transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) with the aim of downregulating the activity of the left or the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during a revised version of Brehms (in 1956. Post-decision changes in the desirability of alternatives. J Abnorm Soc Psychol. 52:384-389) free-choice paradigm. We found that cathodal tDCS over the left, but not over the right, DLPFC caused a reduction of the typical behavior-induced preference change relative to sham stimulation. Our findings highlight the role of prefrontal cortex in cognitive dissonance and provide evidence that left DLPFC plays a necessary role in the implementation of choice-induced preference change.

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