Neuropsychological Unit

Santa Lucia di Serino, Italy

Neuropsychological Unit

Santa Lucia di Serino, Italy
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Badenes D.,Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa | Badenes D.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Garolera M.,Neuropsychological Unit | Casas L.,Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa | And 5 more authors.
Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society | Year: 2014

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) significantly impacts daily living activities, including car driving. To investigate driving difficulties experienced with MS, we compared 50 MS patients with minor or moderate disability and 50 healthy controls (HC) using computerized driving tests (the ASDE driver test and the Useful Field of View (UFOV) test) and neuropsychological tests. Inclusion criteria included being active drivers. We evaluated whether cognitive deterioration in MS is associated with the results of driving tests by comparing MS patients without cognitive deterioration with HC. The results indicated that the MS patients performed worse than the HCs in attention, information processing, working memory and visuomotor coordination tasks. Furthermore, MS patients with cognitive impairments experienced more difficulties in the driving tests than did the non-impaired MS patients. Motor dysfunction associated with MS also played an important role in this activity. The results of this study suggest that MS should be assessed carefully and that special emphasis should be placed on visuomotor coordination and executive functions because patients with minor motor disability and subtle cognitive impairments can pass measures predictive of driving safety. Copyright © INS.Published by Cambridge University Press, 2014.


Berchicci M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Lucci G.,Neuropsychological Unit | Perri R.L.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Perri R.L.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 4 more authors.
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Motor performance deficits of older adults are due to dysfunction at multiple levels. Age-related differences have been documented on executive functions; motor control becomes more reliant on cognitive control mechanisms, including the engagement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), possibly compensating for age-related sensorimotor declines. Since at functional level the PFC showed the largest age-related differences during discriminative response task, we wonder whether those effects are mainly due to the cognitive difficulty in stimulus discrimination or they could be also detected in a much easier task. In the present study, we measured the association of physical exercise with the PFC activation and response times (RTs) using a simple response task (SRT), in which the participants were asked to respond as quickly as possible by manual key-press to visual stimuli. Simultaneous behavioral (RTs) and electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings were performed on 84 healthy participants aged 19-86 years. The whole sample was divided into three cohorts (young, middle-aged, and older); each cohort was further divided into two equal sub-cohorts (exercise and not-exercise) based on a self-report questionnaire measuring physical exercise. The EEG signal was segmented in epochs starting 1100 prior to stimulus onset and lasting 2 s. Behavioral results showed age effects, indicating a slowing of RTs with increasing age. The EEG results showed a significant interaction between age and exercise on the activities recorded on the PFC. The results indicates that: (a) the brain of older adults needs the PFC engagement also to perform elementary task, such as the SRT, while this activity is not necessary in younger adults, (b) physical exercise could reduce this age-related reliance on extra cognitive control also during the performance of a SRT, and (c) the activity of the PFC is a sensitive index of the benefits of physical exercise on sensorimotor decline. © 2014 Berchicci, Lucci, Perri, Spinelli and Di Russo.


Berchicci M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Lucci G.,Neuropsychological Unit | Di Russo F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Di Russo F.,Neuropsychological Unit
Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences | Year: 2013

Motor planning in older adults likely relies on the overengagement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and is associated with slowness of movement and responses. Does a physically active lifestyle counteract the overrecruitment of the PFC during action preparation? This study used high-resolution electroencephalography to measure the effect of physical exercise on the executive functions of the PFC preceding a visuomotor discriminative task. A total of 130 participants aged 15-86 were divided into two groups based on physical exercise participation. The response times and accuracy and the premotor activity of the PFC were separately correlated with age for the two groups. The data were first fit with a linear function and then a higher order polynomial function. We observed that after 35-40 years of age, physically active individuals have faster response times than their less active peers and showed no signs of PFC hyperactivity during motor planning. The present findings show that physical exercise could speed up the response of older people and reveal that also in middle-aged people, moderate-to-high levels of physical exercise benefits the planning/execution of a response and the executive functions mediated by the PFC, counteracting the neural overactivity often observed in the elderly adults. © 2013 The Author.


Berchicci M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Menotti F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Macaluso A.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Di Russo F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Di Russo F.,Neuropsychological Unit
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2013

Fatigue has been defined as an exercise-induced decline in force generation capacity because of changes at both the peripheral and central levels. Movement is preceded and accompanied by brain activities related to the preparation and execution of movement (movement related cortical potentials, MRCP), which have been correlated with the perception of effort (RPE). We combined force measurements, surface electromyography (sEMG), peripheral electrical stimulation (maximal twitch, MT) and MRCP analysis to further our understanding of the neural correlates of peripheral and central changes during a fatiguing task involving the lower limbs. Eighteen healthy volunteers performed 4 blocks of isometric knee extensions at 40% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for a total of 240 2-s contractions. At the baseline and after each block, we measured RPE, MT and MVC. We simultaneously recorded the force of the knee extensor muscles, root mean square (RMS) of the sEMG of the vastus lateralis muscle, and electroencephalography (EEG) from 64 channels. The MRCPs were extracted from the EEG recordings and averaged in the early (Block 1-2) and late (Block 3-4) blocks. Two cohorts were obtained by cluster analysis based on the RPE (i.e., perception of effort) and MT (i.e., peripheral fatigue). We observed a significant decline in both the MVC (-13%) and RMS (-25%) of the sEMG signal over the course of the task; thus, muscle fatigue had occurred in all of the participants regardless of the cohort. The MRCP amplitude was larger in the fatigued than the non-fatigued MT cohort in the supplementary and premotor areas, whereas the MRCP amplitude was larger in the fatigued than the non-fatigued RPE cohort in the aforementioned areas, and also in the primary motor and prefrontal cortices (PFC). The increase in the positive activity of the PFC, along with the perception of effort, represents a novel result, suggesting that it is modulated more by the perception of effort than peripheral fatigue. © 2013 Berchicci, Menotti, Macaluso and Di_russo.


Lucci G.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Lucci G.,Neuropsychological Unit | Berchicci M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Spinelli D.,Foro Italico University of Rome | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Several cognitive changes characterize normal aging; one change regards inhibitory processing and includes both conflict monitoring and response suppression. We attempted to segregate these two aspects within a Go/No-go task, investigating three age categories. Accuracy, response times and event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. The ERP data were analyzed, and the Go and No-go trials were separated; in addition, the trials were organized in repeat trials (in which the subjects repeated the action delivered in the previous trial) and switch trials (in which the subjects produced a response opposite to the previous response). We assumed that the switch trials conveyed more conflict than the repeat trials. In general, the behavioral data and slower P3 latencies confirmed the well-known age-related speed/accuracy trade-off. The novel analyses of the repeat vs. switch trials indicated that the age-related P3 slowing was significant only for the high conflict condition; the switch-P3 amplitude increased only in the two older groups. The 'aging switch effect' on the P3 component suggests a failure in the conflict conditions and likely contributes to a generalized dysfunction. The absence of either a switch effect in the young group and the P3 slowing in middle-aged group indicate that switching was not particularly demanding for these participants. The N2 component was less sensitive to the repeat/switch manipulation; however, the subtractive waves also enhanced the age effects in this earlier time window. The topographic maps showed other notable age effects: the frontal No-go N2 was nearly undetectable in the elderly; in the identical time window, a large activity in the posterior and prefrontal scalp regions was observed. Moreover, the prefrontal activity showed a negative correlation with false alarms. These results suggest that the frontal involvement during action suppression becomes progressively dysfunctional with aging, and additional activity was required to reach a good level of accuracy. © 2013 Lucci et al.


McManus L.M.,University College Dublin | Budini F.,UCD | Di Russo F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Di Russo F.,Neuropsychological Unit | And 5 more authors.
International IEEE/EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering, NER | Year: 2013

Corticomuscular coherence between human cortical rhythms and surface electromyography (sEMG) is commonly observed within the beta (13-35 Hz) and gamma (35-60 Hz) band frequency ranges, but is typically absent within the alpha band (8-12 Hz) in healthy subjects. A recent study has shown that significant alpha band corticomuscular coherence can be mechanically induced in healthy subjects using a spring of appropriate stiffness. Traditional coherence analysis is limited to examining whether a correlation exists between the electroencephalograph (EEG) and EMG recordings, by portraying instances of mutual synchrony. In this study the temporal evolution and directionality of the interaction between the EEG and EMG signals during mechanically induced alpha band coherence were investigated using two recent extensions of classical coherence, wavelet analysis and partial directed coherence. The results indicate a significant increase in directional information flow within the alpha and piper band frequency ranges in the EMG to EEG direction, and appear to provide evidence of the contribution of afferent feedback, and to a lesser extent descending cortical drives, to alpha band corticomuscular coherence. © 2013 IEEE.


Di Russo F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Di Russo F.,Neuropsychological Unit | Bozzacchi C.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Bozzacchi C.,Neuropsychological Unit | And 3 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2013

Visual-evoked potentials (VEPs) were recorded in seventeen patients with unilateral lesions of the right hemisphere (RH) and visuospatial neglect. Hemispheric differences were detected for VEP components in the time window from 130 to 280 msec; this result replicates data from a previous study using a larger group of patients (. Di Russo et al., 2008). Three patients were tested twice; their hemispheric differences, i.e., the differences in latency and amplitude of VEPs to ipsilesional and contralesional stimuli, were evaluated at the beginning and end of visuospatial rehabilitation training for neglect. The hemispheric differences were limited to components anterior N1 (N1a), posterior N1 (N1p) and P2 (not C1 and P1) and showed a significant decrease after training; amelioration at the behavioural level was also observed. Fourteen patients were tested only once, at different steps of their training. For the overall group, we determined the correlation between VEP hemispheric differences and the number of sessions attended by the patients at the time of VEP recording. The correlation was negative, the higher the number of sessions, the lower the hemispheric asymmetry, and high, ranging from .45 to .64, for both the latency and amplitude of the N1p and P2 components, and for the amplitude of the N1a component. The correlation between VEP hemispheric differences and time from onset (TFO) of the pathological event was not significant. Overall, the hemispheric differences between specific components of the VEP responses to lateralised stimuli appear to be a good marker of recovery from neglect. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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