Neuropsychology Unit

Groningen, Netherlands

Neuropsychology Unit

Groningen, Netherlands
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Primativo S.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Primativo S.,Neuropsychology Unit | Arduino L.S.,LUMSA University | Arduino L.S.,CNR Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies | And 4 more authors.
Neuropsychologia | Year: 2013

Brain-damaged patients with right-sided unilateral spatial neglect (USN) often make left-sided errors in reading single words or pseudowords (neglect dyslexia, ND). We propose that both left neglect and low fixation accuracy account for reading errors in neglect dyslexia.Eye movements were recorded in USN patients with (ND+) and without (ND-) neglect dyslexia and in a matched control group of right brain-damaged patients without neglect (USN-). Unlike ND- and controls, ND+ patients showed left lateralized omission errors and a distorted eye movement pattern in both a reading aloud task and a non-verbal saccadic task. During reading, the total number of fixations was larger in these patients independent of visual hemispace, and most fixations were inaccurate. Similarly, in the saccadic task only ND+ patients were unable to reach the moving dot. A third experiment addressed the nature of the left lateralization in reading error distribution by simulating neglect dyslexia in ND- patients. ND- and USN- patients had to perform a speeded reading-at-threshold task that did not allow for eye movements. When stimulus exploration was prevented, ND- patients, but not controls, produced a pattern of errors similar to that of ND+ with unlimited exposure time (e.g., left-sided errors).We conclude that neglect dyslexia reading errors may arise in USN patients as a consequence of an additional and independent deficit unrelated to the orthographic material. In particular, the presence of an altered oculo-motor pattern, preventing the automatic execution of the fine saccadic eye movements involved in reading, uncovers, in USN patients, the attentional bias also in reading single centrally presented words. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Boccia M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Boccia M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Piccardi L.,Neuropsychology Unit | Piccardi L.,Health Science University | And 5 more authors.
Experimental Brain Research | Year: 2016

Field independence (FI) has been defined as the extent to which the individual perceives part of a field as discrete from the surrounding field, rather than embedded in the field. It has been proposed to represent a relatively stable pattern in individuals’ predisposition towards information processing. In the present study, we assessed the effect of FI on skills underpinning human navigation. Fifty Healthy individuals took part in this study. FI has been assessed by using the group embedded figures test (GEFT). Participants were also asked to perform several visuo-spatial orientation tasks, including the perspective taking/spatial orientation test (PTSOT), the mental rotation task (MRT) and the vividness task, as well as the Santa Barbara Sense of Direction Scale, a self-reported questionnaire, which has been found to predict environmental spatial orientation ability. We found that performances on the GEFT significantly predicted performances on the PTSOT and the MRT. This result supports the idea that FI predicts human navigation. © 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Chouiter L.,University of Fribourg | Chouiter L.,Neuropsychology Unit | Holmberg J.,University of Fribourg | Manuel A.L.,University of Lausanne | And 4 more authors.
Neuroscience | Year: 2016

Verbal fluency refers to the ability to generate as many words as possible in a limited time interval, without repetition and according to either a phonologic (each word begins with a given letter) or a semantic rule (each word belongs to a given semantic category). While current literature suggests the involvement of left fronto-temporal structures in fluency tasks, whether the same or distinct brain areas are necessary for each type of fluency remains unclear. We tested the hypothesis for an involvement of partly segregated cortico-subcortical structures between phonologic and semantic fluency by examining with a voxel-based lesion symptom mapping approach the effects of brain lesions on fluency scores corrected for age and education level in a group of 191 unselected brain-damaged patients with a first left or right hemispheric lesion. There was a positive correlation between the scores to the two types of fluency, suggesting that common mechanisms underlie the word generation independent of the production rule. The lesion-symptom mapping revealed that lesions to left basal ganglia impaired both types of fluency and that left superior temporal, supramarginal and rolandic operculum lesions selectively impaired phonologic fluency and left middle temporal lesions impaired semantic fluency. Our results corroborate current neurocognitive models of word retrieval and production, and refine the role of cortical-subcortical interaction in lexical search by highlighting the common executive role of basal ganglia in both types of verbal fluency and the preferential involvement of the ventral and dorsal language pathway in semantic and phonologic fluency, respectively. © 2016 IBRO.

Piccardi L.,Health Science University | Piccardi L.,Neuropsychology Unit | De Luca M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Nori R.,University of Bologna | And 5 more authors.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience | Year: 2016

During navigation people may adopt three different spatial styles (i.e., Landmark, Route, and Survey). Landmark style (LS) people are able to recall familiar landmarks but cannot combine them with directional information; Route style (RS) people connect landmarks to each other using egocentric information about direction; Survey style (SS) people use a map-like representation of the environment. SS individuals generally navigate better than LS and RS people. Fifty-one college students (20 LS; 17 RS, and 14 SS) took part in the experiment. The spatial cognitive style (SCS) was assessed by means of the SCS test; participants then had to learn a schematic map of a city, and after 5 min had to recall the path depicted on it. During the learning and delayed recall phases, eye-movements were recorded. Our intent was to investigate whether there is a peculiar way to explore an environmental map related to the individual’s spatial style. Results support the presence of differences in the strategy used by the three spatial styles for learning the path and its delayed recall. Specifically, LS individuals produced a greater number of fixations of short duration, while the opposite eye movement pattern characterized SS individuals. Moreover, SS individuals showed a more spread and comprehensive explorative pattern of the map, while LS individuals focused their exploration on the path and related targets. RS individuals showed a pattern of exploration at a level of proficiency between LS and SS individuals. We discuss the clinical and anatomical implications of our data. © 2016 Piccardi, De Luca, Nori, Palermo, Iachini and Guariglia.

Cotelli M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Manenti R.,Neuropsychology Unit | Brambilla M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Borroni B.,University of Brescia
Cortex | Year: 2017

Previous studies of patients with brain damage have suggested a close relationship between aphasia and movement disorders. Neurodegenerative extrapyramidal syndromes associated with cognitive impairment provide an interesting model for studying the neural substrates of cognitive and motor symptoms.In this review, we focused on studies investigating language production abilities in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), Corticobasal Syndrome (CBS) and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). According to some reports, these patients exhibit a reduction in performance in both action and object naming or verb production compared to healthy individuals. Furthermore, a disproportional impairment of action naming compared to object naming was systematically observed in patients with these disorders.The study of these clinical conditions offers the unique opportunity to examine the close link between linguistic features and motor characteristics of action. This particular pattern of language impairment may contribute to the debate on embodiment theory and on the involvement of the basal ganglia in language and in integrating language and movement.From a translational perspective, we suggest that language ability assessments are useful in the clinical work-up, along with neuropsychological and motor evaluations. Specific protocols should be developed in the near future to better characterize language deficits and to permit an early cognitive diagnosis. Moreover, the link between language deficits and motor impairment opens a new issue for treatment approaches. Treatment of one of these two symptoms may ameliorate the other, and treating both may produce a greater improvement in patients' global clinical conditions. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.

Puopolo C.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Martelli M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Martelli M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Zoccolotti P.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Zoccolotti P.,Neuropsychology Unit
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | Year: 2013

Here we present a meta-analysis of studies that examined the reaction times (RT) of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) on decision tasks carried out under time pressure. To detect the presence of global components in the data describing the slowing of TBI patients, we used predictions of the difference engine model (DEM). According to this model, performance can be understood by referring to two separate and independent compartments, one cognitive and one sensory-motor.Results confirm previous observations that TBI patients are delayed with respect to matched controls by a multiplicative factor affecting performance over and above the specific characteristics of the tasks. This meta-analysis also shows that the global factor affecting TBI patients' performance is selective for the visual modality. No over-additivity was detected on tasks in the acoustic modality. Estimates of the time taken by the sensory-motor component of the task indicated substantial slowing in the TBI patients. This delay was particularly marked in patients with severe TBI. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Boccia M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Boccia M.,Neuropsychology Unit | Barbetti S.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Barbetti S.,Neuropsychology Unit | And 7 more authors.
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | Year: 2016

Here we aimed at finding the neural correlates of the general aspect of visual aesthetic experience (VAE) and those more strictly correlated with the content of the artworks. We applied a general activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis to 47 fMRI experiments described in 14 published studies. We also performed four separate ALE analyses in order to identify the neural substrates of reactions to specific categories of artworks, namely portraits, representation of real-world-visual-scenes, abstract paintings, and body sculptures. The general ALE revealed that VAE relies on a bilateral network of areas, and the individual ALE analyses revealed different maximal activation for the artworks' categories as function of their content. Specifically, different content-dependent areas of the ventral visual stream are involved in VAE, but a few additional brain areas are involved as well. Thus, aesthetic-related neural responses to art recruit widely distributed networks in both hemispheres including content-dependent brain areas of the ventral visual stream. Together, the results suggest that aesthetic responses are not independent of sensory, perceptual, and cognitive processes. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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.

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 | 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.

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