University positionProfessore associato
DepartmentDipartimento di Fisiologia e Farmacologia
Neurophysiology of cerebral cortex and human cognition. Our studies aimed at understanding neurophysiological mechanisms of cerebral cortex activity during resting state and cognitive-motor processes as revealed by electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythms. Clinical neurophysiology. Our studies aimed at understanding clinical neurophysiological mechanisms of cerebral cortex activity during resting state and cognitive-motor processes in subjects with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, Dementia with Lewy Body, Multiple sclerosis and HIV as revealed by EEG markers. We contributed to the development and validation of EEG, markers for the early diagnosis and prognosis of the mentioned pathological conditions. Neuroplasticity in athletes (sport medicine). Our EEG studies have been focused on cortical arousal during resting state and cognitive-motor tasks in elite athletes to test the hypothesis of neural brain efficiency, as revealed by ample resting state alpha (8-12 Hz) rhythms and selected event-related cortical activity. Results showed that in elite athletes (i.e. karate, fencing, golf, shooters) this is true for resting state condition and specific experimental conditions (i.e. voluntary movement, movement observation, focused attention) but not others (i.e. balance). Cortical EEG rhythms and Alzheimer’s disease. Our EEG studies have been focused on resting state EEG rhythms as markers of cortical arousal of vigilance in normal elderly (Nold), amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) subjects. Results showed that cortical sources of delta (<4 Hz) and low-frequency alpha (8-10.5 Hz) rhythms were abnormal in AD and MCI patients compared to Nold subjects. Furthermore, the activity of these sources showed higher abnormality over time in both AD and MCI patients. Moreover, this activity was related to the following markers used for the assessment of MCI and AD patients: global cognitive status as revealed by the mini-mental state evaluation (MMSE) score, immediate memory, genetic factor risks, and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Finally, the activity of these sources showed different abnormalities in subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) compared to subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD), and dementia with Lewy body (DLB). Brain activity and cognition in subjects with body weight disorders. Our EEG studies have been focused on brain activity related to cognitive functions in people with weight disorders to test the hypothesis of brain neural inefficiency in the processing of food and body image stimuli in obese and underweight subjects. Results showed some abnormal EEG activity of obese and underweight subjects during attention task using food or body image visual stimuli, thus suggesting that body weight homeostasis may depend on attention to food and body image information contents. Neurophysiology of pain and sensorimotor interactions. Our EEG studies have been focused on anticipatory alpha (8-12 Hz) rhythms preceding warned pain stimuli at rest and during voluntary movements of the ipsilateral or contralateral hand. Results showed a gating of anticipatory cortical activity (i.e. desynchronization of alpha rhythms) over primary sensorimotor area ipsilateral to both pain stimuli and voluntary hand movements when compared to anticipatory cortical activity related to resting condition or the event of ipsilateral pain stimulus associated with contralateral voluntary movement. In addition, the perception of the pain was reduced in the case of simultaneous pain and voluntary movements at the same side.