Neuropsychology Unit

Groningen, Netherlands

Neuropsychology Unit

Groningen, Netherlands
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Lugli L.,University of Bologna | Ragni M.,University of Trento | Piccardi L.,University of L'Aquila | Piccardi L.,Neuropsychology Unit | Nori R.,University of Bologna
Computers in Human Behavior | Year: 2017

Recently, many studies have investigated the role of individual and cognitive differences during Web navigation and Web searching. Despite this interest, no works have considered the role may assume individual differences in real-environment navigation during Web navigation. The aim of this work is to investigate the effect of different spatial cognitive styles: Landmark style (LS), Route style (RS) and Survey style (SS), on Web searching behaviour. In real-environment navigation, having a specific style determines the type of information individuals selected to navigate and orient themselves. We hypothesize that LS individuals are less proficient during Web exploration due to their analytical analysis of the environmental features. Vice versa SS individuals will show high performance on Web exploration for their holistic analysis of the World. We asked 30 College Students (10 LS, 10 RS, 10 SS) to solve three Web information tasks. The spatial cognitive style of participants was assessed through the Spatial Cognitive Style Test, and they were also asked to fill in a questionnaire about their internet and computer use. An ad hoc key-logger program for browsers was used to collect Web behaviour measures. In particular, the measures considered were: search engine tools used (e.g. back button), pages visited and revisited, time spent on information searching, and mouse cursor movements. The results showed significant differences between the spatial cognitive styles: LS seems to use a trial and error strategy in order to obtain the relevant information. Differences also emerged in the distribution of mouse cursor movements during Web navigation. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Dotzauer M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Caljouw S.R.,University of Groningen | De Waard D.,University of Groningen | Brouwer W.H.,Neuropsychology Unit | Brouwer W.H.,University of Groningen
Accident Analysis and Prevention | Year: 2013

Within the next few decades, the number of older drivers operating a vehicle will increase rapidly (Eurostat, 2011). As age increases so does physical vulnerability, age-related impairments, and the risk of being involved in a fatal crashes. Older drivers experience problems in driving situations that require divided attention and decision making under time pressure as reflected by their overrepresentation in at-fault crashes on intersections. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) especially designed to support older drivers crossing intersections might counteract these difficulties. In a longer-term driving simulator study, the effects of an intersection assistant on driving were evaluated. 18 older drivers (M = 71.44 years) returned repeatedly completing a ride either with or without a support system in a driving simulator. In order to test the intersection assistance, eight intersections were depicted for further analyses. Results show that ADAS affects driving. Equipped with ADAS, drivers allocated more attention to the road center rather than the left and right, crossed intersections in shorter time, engaged in higher speeds, and crossed more often with a critical time-to-collision (TTC) value. The implications of results are discussed in terms of behavioral adaptation and safety. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Boccia M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Boccia M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Piccardi L.,Neuropsychology Unit | Piccardi L.,University of L'Aquila | And 8 more authors.
Human Brain Mapping | Year: 2015

Visual mental imagery is a complex process that may be influenced by the content of mental images. Neuropsychological evidence from patients with hemineglect suggests that in the imagery domain environments and objects may be represented separately and may be selectively affected by brain lesions. In the present study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the possibility of neural segregation among mental images depicting parts of an object, of an environment (imagined from a first-person perspective), and of a geographical map, using both a mass univariate and a multivariate approach. Data show that different brain areas are involved in different types of mental images. Imagining an environment relies mainly on regions known to be involved in navigational skills, such as the retrosplenial complex and parahippocampal gyrus, whereas imagining a geographical map mainly requires activation of the left angular gyrus, known to be involved in the representation of categorical relations. Imagining a familiar object mainly requires activation of parietal areas involved in visual space analysis in both the imagery and the perceptual domain. We also found that the pattern of activity in most of these areas specifically codes for the spatial arrangement of the parts of the mental image. Our results clearly demonstrate a functional neural segregation for different contents of mental images and suggest that visuospatial information is coded by different patterns of activity in brain areas involved in visual mental imagery. Hum Brain Mapp 36:945-958, 2015. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

De Luca M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Burani C.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Paizi D.,CNR Institute of Neuroscience | Paizi D.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 4 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2010

This study evaluated letter recognition processing in Italian developmental dyslexics and its potential contribution to word reading. Letter/bigram recognition (naming and matching) and reading of words and non-words were examined. A group of developmental dyslexics and a chronologically age-matched group of skilled readers were examined. Dyslexics were significantly slower than skilled readers in all tasks. The rate and amount model (RAM, Faust et al., 1999) was used to detect global and specific factors in the performance differences controlling for the presence of over-additivity effects. Two global factors emerged. One (" letter-string" factor) accounted for the performance in all (and only) word and non-word reading conditions, indicating a large impairment in dyslexics (more than 100% reaction time - RT increase as compared to skilled readers). All the letter/bigram tasks clustered on a separate factor (" letter" factor) indicating a mild impairment (ca. 20% RT increase as compared to skilled readers). After controlling for global factor influences by the use of the z-score transformation, specific effects were detected for the " letter-string" (but not the " letter" ) factor. Stimulus length exerted a specific effect on dyslexics' performance, with dyslexics being more affected by longer stimuli; furthermore, dyslexics showed a stronger impairment for reading words than non-words. Individual differences in the " letter" and " letter-string" factors were uncorrelated, pointing to the independence of the impairments. The putative mechanisms underlying the two global factors and their possible relationship to developmental dyslexia are discussed. © 2009 Elsevier Srl.

Di Russo F.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Di Russo F.,Neuropsychology Unit | Berchicci M.,Foro Italico University of Rome | Perri R.L.,Foro Italico University of Rome | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

In the present study, we report the benefits of a passive and fully articulated exoskeleton on multiple sclerosis patients by means of behavioral and electrophysiological measures, paying particular attention to the prefrontal cortex activity. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition characterized by lesions of the myelin sheaths that encapsulate the neurons of the brain, spine and optic nerve, and it causes transient or progressive symptoms and impairments in gait and posture. Up to 50% of multiple sclerosis patients require walking aids and 10% are wheelchair-bound 15 years following the initial diagnosis. We tested the ability of a new orthosis, the "Human Body Posturizer", designed to improve the structural and functional symmetry of the body through proprioception, in multiple sclerosis patients. We observed that a single Human Body Posturizer application improved mobility, ambulation and response accuracy, in all of the tested patients. Most importantly, we associated these clinical observations and behavioral effects to changes in brain activity, particularly in the prefrontal cortex. © 2013 Di Russo et al.

Scarpazza C.,University of Bologna | Braghittoni D.,University of Bologna | Casale B.,University of Bologna | Malagu S.,Ospedale Bufalini | And 3 more authors.
Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience | Year: 2013

Purpose: Although neuropsychological impairments are common in Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the manifestation of cognitive deficits may vary greatly across MS patients. Here, we explored the influence of cognitive reserve proxy indices (education and occupation) and perceived fatigue on cognitive performance. Methods: Fifty relapsing-remitting MS patients were evaluated. Cognitive performance was measured using the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT), in which information processing speed can be manipulated by varying the presentation speed of stimuli. Results: MS patients with low education performed worse than healthy controls at faster PASAT speeds. By contrast, no difference was observed between MS patients with high education and matched healthy controls, regardless of PASAT speed. Moreover, we found that neither occupational attainment nor perceived fatigue has an influence on MS patients' cognitive performance. Conclusion: These findings provide evidence that higher education could be protective against MS-associated cognitive deficits and that high speed PASAT versions are more suitable for identifying compensatory capacities compared to low speed PASAT versions. © 2013 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.

Brambilla M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Manenti R.,Neuropsychology Unit | Ferrari C.,Neuropsychology Unit | Cotelli M.,Neuropsychology Unit
Behavioural Brain Research | Year: 2015

Episodic memory is a cognitive function that appears more susceptible than others to the effects of aging. The main aim of this study is to investigate if the magnitude of functional hemispheric lateralization during episodic memory test was positively correlated with memory performance, proving the presence of a beneficial pattern of neural processing in high-performing older adults but not in low-performing participants.We have applied anodal transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) or sham stimulation over left and right hemisphere in a group of young subjects and in high-performing and low-performing older participants during an experimental verbal episodic memory task.Remarkably, young individuals and high-performing older adults exhibited similar performances on episodic memory tasks and both groups showed symmetrical recruitment of left and right areas during memory retrieval. In contrast, low-performing older adults, who obtained lower scores on the memory tasks, demonstrated a greater engagement of the left hemisphere during verbal memory task. Furthermore, structural equation model was performed for analyzing the interrelations between the index of interhemispheric asymmetry and several neuropsychological domains. We found that the bilateral engagement of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex regions had a direct correlation with memory and executive functions evaluated as latent constructs. These findings drew attention to brain maintenance hypothesis. The potential of neurostimulation in cognitive enhancement is particularly promising to prevent memory loss during aging. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Mattioli F.,Neuropsychology Unit | Ambrosi C.,University of Brescia | Mascaro L.,Medical Physics Unit | Scarpazza C.,Neuropsychology Unit | And 5 more authors.
Stroke | Year: 2014

Background and Purpose - Early poststroke aphasia rehabilitation effects and their functional MRI (fMRI) correlates were investigated in a pilot, controlled longitudinal study. Methods - Twelve patients with mild/moderate aphasia (8 Broca, 3 anomic, and 1 Wernicke) were randomly assigned to daily language rehabilitation for 2 weeks (starting 2.2 [mean] days poststroke) or no rehabilitation. The Aachen Aphasia Test and fMRI recorded during an auditory comprehension task were performed at 3 time intervals: mean 2.2 (T1), 16.2 (T2), and 190 (T3) days poststroke. Results - Groups did not differ in terms of age, education, aphasia severity, lesions volume, baseline fMRI activations, and in task performance during fMRI across examinations. Rehabilitated patients significantly improved in naming and written language tasks (P<0.05) compared with no rehabilitation group both at T2 and T3. Functional activity at T1 was reduced in language-related cortical areas (right and left inferior frontal gyrus and middle temporal gyrus, right inferior parietal lobule and superior temporal gyrus) in patients compared with controls. T2 and T3 follow-ups revealed a cortical activation increase, with significantly greater activation in the left hemisphere areas in rehabilitated patients at T2 and T3, and a time×treatment effect at T2 in the left inferior Broca area after rehabilitation. Left inferior frontal gyrus activation at T2 significantly correlated with naming improvement. Conclusions - Early poststroke aphasia treatment is useful, has durable effects, and may lead to early enhanced recruitment of brain areas, particularly the left inferior frontal gyrus, which persists in the chronic phase. © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.

Mattioli F.,Neuropsychology Unit | Stampatori C.,Neuropsychology Unit | Scarpazza C.,Neuropsychology Unit | Parrinello G.,University of Brescia | Capra R.,Multiple Sclerosis Center
Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders | Year: 2012

Background: Neuropsychological rehabilitation efficacy in multiple sclerosis (MS) is a currently investigated issue. We reported, in a single blind controlled study, that an intensive short duration cognitive training of attention and executive functions significantly improves the treated functions and reduces depression in MS. The persistence of these effects over time are unknown. Objective: To evaluate the persistence over time of neuropsychological improvement due to cognitive training nine months after rehabilitation onset. Methods: This is a single blind randomized controlled study. 24 MS patients were randomly assigned to experimental group (n=13) and received PC assisted neuropsychological treatment for three months, or to control group (n=11), receiving no treatment. Patients were submitted to neuropsychological evaluation, depression and quality of life questionnaires at baseline, three months and nine months later. Results: Nine months follow up compared to baseline evaluation shows a statistically significant improvement (p<0.05) in attention, information processing and executive functions tests (PASAT 3″, COWA/S, WCSTpe), in depression and quality of life questionnaires in rehabilitated patients only. reliable change index (RCI) and modified RCI confirmed the clinical significance of this improvement in rehabilitated patients. Conclusions: Three months intensive neuropsychological rehabilitation of attention, information processing and executive functions induces a long lasting and clinically relevant neuropsychological improvement over time and a persistent depression and quality of life amelioration in patients with RR MS. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.

Mattioli F.,Neuropsychology Unit | Stampatori C.,Neuropsychology Unit | Bellomi F.,Neuropsychology Unit | Capra R.,Multiple Sclerosis Center
Neurological Sciences | Year: 2011

We report follow-up data on the efficacy of natalizumab therapy on neuropsychological impairment on an italian MS group of 39 patients at 1 year and of 11 patients at 2 years. Results show a significant reduction in relapse rate, in the number of impaired neuropsychological tests as well as in several single executive function and reasoning tests scores at 1 year. Improvement persisted at 2 years, including also memory and speed processing tasks. These data support the efficacy of natalizumab therapy in all the clinical domains, including cognitive deterioration, in multiple sclerosis patients. © Springer-Verlag 2010.

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