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Avenanti A.,University of Bologna | Avenanti A.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Candidi M.,Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico Fondazione Santa Lucia | Candidi M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Urgesi C.,University of Udine
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. Source

Anelli F.,University of Bologna | Ciaramelli E.,University of Bologna | Ciaramelli E.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Arzy S.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Frassinetti F.,University of Bologna
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. Source

Borgomaneri S.,Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive | Borgomaneri S.,University of Groningen | Gazzola V.,University of Groningen | Gazzola V.,Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and science | And 2 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. Source

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. Source

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. Source

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