Neuroscience Institute of Turin

Sant'Ambrogio di Torino, Italy

Neuroscience Institute of Turin

Sant'Ambrogio di Torino, Italy
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Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin | Cavallo M.,University of Turin | Cavallo M.,University of Piemonte Orientale | Enrici I.,University of Turin
Neuropsychologia | Year: 2010

The paper reviews convergent evidence on the ability to attribute mental states to one's self and to others (i.e., theory of mind, ToM) in patients affected by the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia (bv-FTD). This disease represents a particular challenge for researchers and clinicians, due to its insidious onset and ambiguous clinical features, which frequently render difficult a precise and timely diagnosis. The paper proposes a way to shed new light on the hypothesis that the neuropsychiatric profile of individuals with bv-FTD can be at least partially explained by a deficit in ToM ability. We examined both neuroimaging data on the neural correlates of ToM ability in healthy participants and studies investigating the progressive cerebral atrophy in patients with bv-FTD. Our findings suggest a link between the progressive degeneration of the anterior regions of medial frontal structures characterising the early stages of the bv-FTD and the ToM deficit these patients show. They also suggest the importance of using ToM tests during the diagnostic process of bv-FTD. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Poletti M.,University of Pisa | Enrici I.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews | Year: 2012

The paper reviews of all of the current evidence on Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. ToM refers to the abilities to attribute mental states to others. Two neural systems are involved in processing other people's beliefs and intentions (cognitive component) and others' emotions and feelings (affective component). We hypothesize that patients with different neurodegenerative diseases may present different patterns of ToM deficits on the basis of how different neuropathological processes affect the neural bases of ToM components during the progression of a disease. The studies we reviewed provided evidence of a deficit of the cognitive ToM component in cortical (Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia) and frontal-subcortical (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and basal ganglia disorders) neurodegenerative diseases. As regards the affective ToM component, it resulted markedly impaired in frontotemporal dementia; it also resulted that performances in tasks assessing this process are heterogeneous in Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The findings presented support the opportunity to introduce validated ToM tasks in the neuropsychological assessment of neurodegenerative diseases. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Enrici I.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin | Cappa S.,Vita-Salute San Raffaele University | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience | Year: 2011

Human communicative competence is based on the ability to process a specific class of mental states, namely, communicative intention. The present fMRI study aims to analyze whether intention processing in communication is affected by the expressive means through which a communicative intention is conveyed, that is, the linguistic or extralinguistic gestural means. Combined factorial and conjunction analyses were used to test two sets of predictions: first, that a common brain network is recruited for the comprehension of communicative intentions independently of the modality through which they are conveyed; second, that additional brain areas are specifically recruited depending on the communicative modality used, reflecting distinct sensorimotor gateways. Our results clearly showed that a common neural network is engaged in communicative intention processing independently of the modality used. This network includes the precuneus, the left and right posterior STS and TPJ, and the medial pFC. Additional brain areas outside those involved in intention processing are specifically engaged by the particular communicative modality, that is, a peri-sylvian language network for the linguistic modality and a sensorimotor network for the extralinguistic modality. Thus, common representation of communicative intention may be accessed by modality-specific gateways, which are distinct for linguistic versus extralinguistic expressive means. Taken together, our results indicate that the information acquired by different communicative modalities is equivalent from a mental processing standpoint, in particular, at the point at which the actor's communicative intention has to be reconstructed. © 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin
Clinical Neuropsychiatry | Year: 2013

There is fast-growing interest in the study of Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities in neurodegenerative diseases. In a previous work, we reviewed all the evidence of altered ToM abilities in patients with neurodegenerative diseases in the literature published until then. In the present paper, we extend that analysis by integrating our conclusions with the most updated evidence that is now available. This new analysis allows for a clarification of some pending questions, such as at which stage ToM deficits begin to appear in dementing disorders, what is the relationship between executive functioning and ToM abilities in patients with Parkinson's disease, and how can ToM tasks help clinicians to discriminate between different neurodegenerative disorders. Furthermore, we now provide the first review of all articles on ToM abilities in patients with multiple sclerosis. The data discussed here strongly suggest overall that a neuropsychological assessment of patients with neurodegenerative diseases should routinely include an accurate investigation of ToM abilities. Increasing evidence has shown that different ToM tasks may help clinicians in the diagnostic process and caregivers in understanding the behavioural problems that are often shown by their suffering relatives. © 2013 Giovanni Fioriti Editore s.r.l.


Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin | Ardito R.B.,University of Turin
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: The findings of the few studies that have to date investigated the way in which individuals with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) navigate their social environment are somewhat contradictory. We undertook this study to shed new light on the social-cognitive profile of patients with AN, analysing Theory of Mind and emotional functioning. Starting from previous evidence on the role of the amygdala in the neurobiology of AN and in the social cognition, we hypothesise preserved Theory of Mind and impaired emotional functioning in patients with AN. Methodology: Thirty women diagnosed with AN and thirty-two women matched for education and age were involved in the study. Theory of Mind and emotional functioning were assessed with a set of validated experimental tasks. A measure of perceived social support was also used to test the correlations between this dimension and the social-cognitive profile of AN patients. Principal Findings: The performance of patients with AN is significantly worse than that of healthy controls on tasks assessing emotional functioning, whereas patients' performance is comparable to that of healthy controls on the Theory of Mind task. Correlation analyses showed no relationship between scores on any of the social-cognition tasks and either age of onset or duration of illness. A correlation between social support and emotional functioning was found. This latter result seems to suggest a potential role of social support in the treatment and recovery of AN. Conclusions: The pattern of results followed the experimental hypothesis. They may be useful to help us better understand the social-cognitive profile of patients with AN and to contribute to the development of effective interventions based on the ways in which patients with AN actually perceive their social environment. © 2012 Adenzato et al.


Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin
Clinical Neuropsychiatry | Year: 2013

The presence of Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits in autistic children clearly shows that alterations of neurodevelopment may affect the normal development of ToM abilities. From this perspective, other clinical conditions of childhood and adolescence with less-severe alterations of neurodevelopment in comparison to autism could also be associated with ToM impairment. This hypothesis has been scarcely investigated, considering that apart from studies on autism and other pervasive developmental disorders, empirical research on ToM impairment is mostly focused on adult clinical populations. This paper reviews empirical studies on ToM abilities in non-autistic developmental psychiatric disorders. Preliminary findings derived from this weak empirical evidence suggest that in comparison to typically developing subjects, the following may have altered ToM: (1) patients with disorders with typical onset in childhood or adolescence, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder, and (2) patients with psychiatric disorders typical of adult subjects but with childhood or adolescent onset, such as psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders. Findings are discussed, and limitations of these studies as regards sample selection, controls, settings, and ToM assessment are identified. Directions for further studies on this topic are suggested. © 2013.


Bosco F.M.,University of Turin | Bosco F.M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin | Gabbatore I.,University of Turin | Tirassa M.,University of Turin | Tirassa M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin
Consciousness and Cognition | Year: 2014

The aim of this research was to provide an articulated assessment of several different ToM components, namely first- vs. third-person, egocentric vs. allocentric, and first- vs. second-order ToM, in preadolescence and adolescence. Our expectations for the sample of 80 juveniles that participated in the research were that: (1) ToM abilities would improve with age; (2) participants would perform better at first-person than at third-person tasks; (3) participants would perform better at first-order than at second-order tasks; (4) girls will perform systematically better than boys. We also explored possible differences in performance (5) in the allocentric vs. the egocentric perspectives as well as (6) in the comprehension of different types of mental states, namely desires, beliefs and positive and negative emotions. Overall our expectations were confirmed. Our data confirmed that all ToM aspects we investigated keep maturing during preadolescence and adolescence. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Vicari G.,University of Turin | Vicari G.,University of Palermo | Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin
Consciousness and Cognition | Year: 2014

In their 2002 seminal paper Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch hypothesize that recursion is the only human-specific and language-specific mechanism of the faculty of language. While debate focused primarily on the meaning of recursion in the hypothesis and on the human-specific and syntax-specific character of recursion, the present work focuses on the claim that recursion is language-specific. We argue that there are recursive structures in the domain of motor intentionality by way of extending John R. Searle's analysis of intentional action. We then discuss evidence from cognitive science and neuroscience supporting the claim that motor-intentional recursion is language-independent and suggest some explanatory hypotheses: (1) linguistic recursion is embodied in sensory-motor processing; (2) linguistic and motor-intentional recursions are distinct and mutually independent mechanisms. Finally, we propose some reflections about the epistemic status of HCF as presenting an empirically falsifiable hypothesis, and on the possibility of testing recursion in different cognitive domains. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


Cavallo M.,University of Turin | Cavallo M.,University of Piemonte Orientale | Adenzato M.,University of Turin | Adenzato M.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

The present study aims at clarifying the nature of the Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). ToM is the ability to attribute mental states such as intentions and beliefs to others in order to understand and predict their behaviour and to behave accordingly. Several neuroimaging studies reported the prefrontal cortices as the brain region underlying a key ToM ability, i.e. the comprehension of social intentions. Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortices in patients with ALS has been indicated by a range of neuroimaging studies. The frontal syndrome that appears to characterize up to 50% of ALS has been noted to be similar to the profile that characterizes patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a neurodegenerative condition characterised by ToM deficits. In the present paper, we hypothesize that the performance of patients with ALS is significantly worse than healthy controls' performance on tasks requiring the comprehension of social contexts, whereas patients' performance is comparable to healthy controls' performance on tasks not requiring the comprehension of social contexts. To this end, we tested 15 patients with ALS with an experimental protocol that distinguishes between private (non-social) intentions and social intentions. The pattern of results followed the experimental hypothesis: the performance of patients with ALS and healthy controls significantly differed on the comprehension of social context only, with an impairment in patients with ALS. Single case analysis confirmed the findings at an individual level. The present study is the first which has examined and compared the understanding of social and non-social contexts in patients with ALS and shown a specific and selective deficit in the former only. The current findings further support the notion of a continuum of cognitive dysfunction ranging from ALS to FTD, with parallel cognitive profiles in both disorders. © 2011 Cavallo et al.


Chio A.,University of Turin | Chio A.,Neuroscience Institute of Turin | Canosa A.,University of Turin | Gallo S.,University of Turin | And 5 more authors.
Neurology | Year: 2011

Objective: To assess the effect of eligibility criteria in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) clinical trials on the representativeness of the enrolled population. Methods: Patients enrolled in 8 placebo-controlled clinical trials in our ALS center from 2003 to 2008 were compared 1) to the patients included a prospective epidemiologic register (Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta register for ALS, PARALS) in the same period and 2) the subset of PARALS patients who met the usual criteria for inclusion in clinical trials (PARALS-ct) (definite, probable, probable laboratory-supported ALS; age between 18 and 75 years; disease duration<36 months; vital capacity at diagnosis≥70%; score≥3 at the items swallowing and respiratory insufficiency at the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale-revised scale; riluzole therapy). Results: A total of 164 patients were enrolled in 8 different clinical trials. The PARALS cohort included 813 patients, of whom 539 (66.3%) met the entry criteria for clinical trials. Patients enrolled in clinical trials were different from both epidemiologic cohorts, since they were younger, had a longer diagnostic delay, and were more likely to have a spinal onset, and to be men. Tracheostomy-free survival was significantly longer in the group of patients enrolled in clinical trials (median survival time, trial patients, 3.9 years [95% confidence interval (CI) 3.4-4.4]; PARALS, 2.6 [2.4-2.8]; PARALS-ct, 2.9 [2.7-3.1]). Conclusions: Patients enrolled in clinical trials do not satisfactorily represent the ALS population; consequently, the findings of ALS trials lack of external validity (generalizability). Efforts should be made to improve patients' recruitment in trials, particularly enrolling incident rather than prevalent cases. © 2011 by AAN Enterprises, Inc.

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