Research Lines

Research Lines for prospective PhD Students (Cohort 39: 2023-2026)

Prospective PhD Students should choose 1-2 research lines and write their project proposal (required for the next PhD entrance exam) generally based on those lines. The next call for the entrance exam will be opened between 9 of May and 7 of June 2023 (1 pm). It is possible to contact the PIs if you want to know more about their research lines. There is also the opportunity to apply for the priority research-bonded grants as well (in Italian: “borse a tema vincolato”), if you are interested in those and feel qualified. In the application procedure, there will be also two extra PhD positions without fellowship requested by professors Manfredo Atzori & Alessandra Del Felice.

Research Line # Title Supervisor Potential Co-Supervisor/s (typically 1-2) Other potential Collaborators Short Abstract (max 150 words), if available (especially for priority research grants/borse a tema vincolato/apprendistato/industriale)
1 Deep artificial neural networks: multi-scale and multi-modal applications to neuroscience and biomedical data analysis. Manfredo Atzori Gianmaria Silvello, Maurizio Corbetta. Additional co-supervisors related to the considered use cases. Prof. Henning Müller, University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland & University of Geneva. Exascale volumes of multimodal data are continuously produced in neurosciences and the biomedical domain, including for instance patient information, clinical data, biological laboratory data, bio-images, bio-signals, instrumental examinations and genetic data.
Fully exploiting them in order to extract knowledge and patterns is still an open challenge, due to the heterogeneity of data and state of the art limitations in machine learning.
This research line aims at developing machine learning methods to extract knowledge from multimodal biomedical data, in order to characterize patients with variable spatial and temporal resolution, leading to multimodal knowledge exploration and, eventually, precision medicine applications.
2 Deep artificial neural networks: multi-modal applications to neuroscience, assistive robotics or prosthetics Manfredo Atzori To be defined according to the project, e.g. among the WG “Robotics & Neuroscience” of the PNC. The recent advancements of machine learning and, particularly, of deep learning paved the way to unprecedented opportunities in many domains, including neuroscience and assistive robotics.
This research line targets the proposal of innovative ideas leveraging the capabilities of modern deep learning approaches for research applications in neurosciences and assistive robotics.
3 Study of brain connectivity profiles based on latent dimensions & relationship with cognitive performance Antonino Vallesi Samir Suweis Arianna Menardi, Manlio De Domenico, Michele Allegra, Ettore Ambrosini Study of connectivity profiles based on latent dimensions (i.e., connectivity gradients), as a way of providing a common space useful to assess and compare neurocognitive alterations, by reducing dimensionality of complex neuroimaging data to make them more scientifically interpretable. The main interest is the study of the functional covariance patterns between brain regions, understand the shifts and dispersion of functional networks across the adult life-span, or in diseases, and their link with high order cognitive functioning
4 Online Neurofeedback as a means to boost cognitive functioning Antonino Vallesi Ettore Ambrosini, Simone Messerotti-Benvenuti Antonino Visalli, Camillo Porcaro We will explore online neurofeedback during the execution of cognitive tasks (mainly EEG-based) as a means to enhance performance relying on high level cognitive processes. Given the controversy in the literature, we might also try to pre-register some of the studies to promote transparency in research.
5 Mechanisms of speech perception and language acquisition Judit Gervain Silvia Benavides Varela Despite more than a half century of empirical research, the mechansims that allow infants to acquire language effortlessly are still only partially understood. This line of research aims to uncover some of the earliest speech perception mechanisms that contribute to this feat.
6 Critical periods in language development (funding from Prof. Judit Gervain – DPSS, and Michela Fagiolini – Harvard). Judit Gervain Michela Fagiolini Takao Hensch The hypothesis that language is a critical period phenomenon has gained new momentum in the last 10-15 years, since the molecular mechanisms that regulate critical periods are becoming better described. The current project aims to harness these most recent discoveries and apply them to language acquisition in early human development.
7 A New Perspective on Time Perspective: neural and psychological components of individuals’ attitude to present, past and future Giorgia Cona Camillo Porcaro Andrea Spoto, Giovanna Mioni Time perspective describes how individuals think and behave in relation with past, present and future.
Time perspective is not a monolithic construct but encompasses multiple dimensions, such as Time attitudes (e.g., positive and negative feelings toward the past, the present, and the future), or Time orientation (the emphasis one places on each time period), and has great impact on various life aspects: mental health, achievements, life satisfaction.
The aims of the project are three: 1) exploring what are the key cognitive and psychological latent components that explain individual’s time perspective; 2) identifying possible brain correlates; 3) creating new instruments (scale, tasks) to better assess time perspective.
8 Investigating the efficacy of novel EEG-neurofeedback trainings for improving emotion regulation and executive functions in healthy individuals and in clinical populations Simone Messerotti Benvenuti Antonino Vallesi Carola dell’Acqua
9 Affective processing in at-risk populations: towards novel psychophysiological measures of vulnerability to depression Simone Messerotti Benvenuti Chiara Spironelli Carola dell’Acqua
10 Stroke, cortical microcircuits and the role of slow waves Stefano Vassanelli Maurizio Corbetta Manuela Allegra
11 Characterization of Hemodynamic Activity at Rest During non-Pathological Ageing by Fractal Analysis [CHeAP Age] Camillo Porcaro Florinda Ferreri Maurizio Corbetta; Angelo Antonini The global population is ageing rapidly. However, the quality of life is not the same as the quantity of life.
Often, we focus on treating symptoms of the disease such as dementia or Parkinson’s. Instead, we believe a
focus on sustaining health will improve outcomes for people who develop brain conditions.
The project will combines brain imaging and maths. We will study data from people who
have aged well and from people with poor brain health. We will develop models that reveal features of ageing
well and will study how these features change in those with poor brain health. We will use our models to
propose experiments that can be performed by others to understand whether brain health can be sustained for
longer periods of time than is possible right now.
Our work may benefit society by revealing techniques to slow down changes in the brain that occur as a result
of ageing. Sustaining healthy functions for longer will improve the quality of life and enable more people to be
more productive. This is needed in societies where fewer children are born and people live longer.
12 Identify new and robust markers able to characterize the unbalancing of the pathological intrinsic brain activity. Camillo Porcaro Florinda Ferreri Maurizio Corbetta; Angelo Antonini Brain functions have traditionally been studied in terms of physiological responses evoked by external stimuli. This approach, however, does not consider that most of the brain’s energy is used for maintaining its intrinsic functioning i.e those brain activities that are not directly associated with the response to external stimuli. Here, we hypothesize that intrinsic brain activity (IBA) is used to maintain balance among the intrinsic brain networks. This balanced activity, measurable by nonlinear chaos theory such as fractal analysis, can be optimally tuned to react efficiently to specific tasks involving information processing for interpreting, responding to and predicting environmental demands. The ground-breaking nature of this proposal is to elucidate the contribution of the IBA to the brain’s balance, in healthy subjects with the aim to define a clear, physiological baseline for all transient changes due to alterations in perception or cognition, including those seen in pathology.
13 Processing of genuine and not genuine emotions: neural basis and clinical implications Cristina Scarpazza Giorgio Arcara (IRCCS S Camillo Venezia); Luca Cecchetti (IMT Lucca) Rachele Pezzetta; Fabio Masina (IRCCS Sab Camillo Venezia)
14 Forensic Neuroscience: cognitive biases, improvement of inter rater reliability of assessments and application of the multidimensional approach Cristina Scarpazza Andrea Zangrossi (UNIPD); Pietro Pietrini (IMT LUCCA) Giuseppe Sartori (UNIPD)
15 Quantitative EEG biomarkers for focal epilepsy Florinda Ferreri Camillo Porcaro Dott. Dainese The techniques of applied electrophysiology are of practical importance in diagnosing and managing certain categories of neurological disease, such as epilepsy. Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a measure of electrical activity generated by the central nervous system. Despite the introduction of techniques such positron emission tomography (PET) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), EEG is currently the best readily available laboratory tests of brain physiology. As such, it is complementary to anatomical imaging techniques like computed tomography (CT) or MRI. In epilepsy clinical settings, it is evaluated by experts who identify patterns visually. Quantitative EEG (QEEG) is the application of digital signal processing to clinical recordings in order to automatize diagnostic procedures, and to make patterns visible that are hidden to the human eye. This research line intends to improve the role of specific features identified by QEEG analysis as biomarkers of epilepsy.
16 Free energy principle and the brain: neuronal and phylogenetic mechanisms of Bayesian inference Ettore Ambrosini Aram Megighian, Marco Dal Maschio, Francesco Donnarumma (CNR), Antonino Vallesi Claudia Lodovichi, Nicola Cellini Compelling evidence from theoretical and simulation studies show that the free energy principle (FEP) can model and explain several structural and functional aspects of the brain, but its empirical validation is at the beginning also because of limitations of the neuroscientific tools used in humans. This project tackles this issue by integrating cognitive, animal, computational and comparative neuroscience. FEP will be investigated during perceptual decision making in humans, using EEG and fMRI, as well as in two animal models (fruit fly and zebrafish) using not only in vivo neuroimaging, but also optogenetics tools suited to causally investigate neural circuits at the cellular level, as informed by Bayesian computational modelling of the obtained behavioral and neural data.
17 Behavioral and neurobiological diagnostic and prognostic markers of post-stroke aphasia: a novel approach based on electroencephalography measures Ettore Ambrosini Dante Mantini, Francesca Peressotti Maria Montefinese, Giorgio Arcara, Silvia Benavides-Varela Stroke aphasia -SA, an acquired impairment in producing/understanding language- has a dramatic impact on functional communication and everyday activities of patients and their families, with huge social costs. It is thus vital to understand its prognostic and diagnostic factors to develop novel interventions. Clinical and experimental research showed that SA is usually associated with other cognitive disorders involved in the retrieval of meaning, such as the semantic and executive control processes. However, their specific role in affecting the severity and recovery of SA is still unknown. This project tackles this issue by using an innovative approach to provide more punctual behavioral and neurobiological markers of SA deficits and recovery and by studying the individual differences in EEG activity and functional organization, paving the way for new individualized rehabilitation strategies.
18 Wearable sensors to identify motor primitives in neurological disorders Alessandra Del Felice Rita Stagni, UNIBO Motor primitives are low dimensionality motor modules which contribute to the motor execution of any gesture. They are affected in neurological disorders, although the temporal trajectories of these changes, and potential recovery of physiological motor primitives after a lesion of rehabilitation is still not fully investigated. The project aims at developing a long-term monitoring and analysis system through wearable devices. This knowledge will provide the basis for future restorative interventions
19 A multimodal approach to prevent falls in the elderly: muscle, brain and motion signals to develop symbiotic wearable devices Alessandra Del Felice Luca Tonin, UNIPD, Lorenzo Chiari, UNIBO The project aims at identifying the neurophysiological and biomechanical features of loss of balance in populations of healthy elderly and people with neurological disorders. Electroencephalographic (EEG), electromyographic (EMG) and wearable sensors (Inertial Measurement Unit- IMUs) data will provide the information to control a closed loop system to reduce instability.
20 Brain Electrical Biomarkers of Learning Disabilities with overlapping symptoms Mario Liotti Antonino Vallesi Irene Mammarella (DPSS) Margaret Semrud-Clikemam (Univ. of Minnesota) The project will compare EEG measures of regional activity in active executive, emotional and social and social tasks and functional connectivity at rest (rs-FC) in groups of children with specific learning disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and NonVerbal Learning Disorder. We will determine the association between performance levels in behavioral measures and functional EEG measures both at rest and in active tasks.A machine learning approach will be employed to discriminate between the different groups on rs-FC patterns in and to predict individual scores in the performance measures in the behavioral assessment. Finally, graph theoretical analysis will be used to study whether network topology properties can be a significant marker for discriminating between the vARIOIS groups, and to predict individual performance during the behavioral assessment.
21 Keep cam and Carry on: Testing the effects of trancranial Alternated Current Stimulation (tACS) to reduce Anxiety and boost cognitive performance Mario Liotti Antonino Vallesi, Simone Cutini The project will first ascertain the effect of high anxiety levels on EEG resting state oscillatory activity as well on performance and eror monitoring in emotional and neutral task contexts using an Affective Flanker Task and high Density electroencephalographic activity. Secondly, we plan to test the efficacy of a repeated tACS intevention vs. Sham to normalize cognitive performance and brain function in anxious people.
22 Clincal and genetic deep phenotyping in calcium-accumulation human diseases Miryam Carecchio To be defined Prof. L. Salviati, Prof. R. Manara Primary Familial Brain Calcification (PFBC) is a rare genetic neurodegnerative disorder caused by calcium phosphate deposition in basal ganglia and other brain regions. Clinically patients present with movement disorders, cognitive decline and psychiatric disturbances. This project is aimed at: 1) characterizing PFBC patients at a clinical, molecular and radiological level, searching for clinical and molecular prognostic factors and 2) dissecting clinical, radiological and genetic endophenotypes of patients without mutations in known genes in order to look for potential new causative genes by WES/WGS
23 Rare and ultra-rare movement disorders of childhood and adulthood Miryam Carecchio Marta Campagnolo, Angelo Antonini Prof. L. Salviati Rare movement disorders encompass a variety of human diseases with onset from childhood to late adulthood that can present bot with reduction of movement or with abnormal, excessive production of movements. Most of them are genetically determined but genetic bases are still largely unknown. This research line is aimed at individuating single patients or families with genetically unknown movement disorders to discover new disease-associated genes.
24 Spatial representation in invertebrates: towards a unified vision on animal navigation Aram Megighian Marco Dal Maschio, Claudia Lodovichi Maria-Elena Miletto Petrazzini DPG, Mauro Zordan DBio The study of animal navigation is a complex field of neuroscience: questions regarding how animals relate to external stimuli, integrating them to perform their everyday movement, are being addressed in different organisms, both from the behavioural and neuronal point of view. Several model organisms (both verterbates and invertebrates; fruitflies in our laboratory) are the object of studies aimed at unravelling how they navigate and their ability to precisely return to a starting point and also how navigational information is communicated to conspecifics when precise social structures are present. Research on humans investigates the neural architecture involved in these processes in search to find answers to physiological and pathological questions. However, an ‘all-inclusive’ vision of navigation still appears to be in its embryonic state: A better perspective could shift from a paradigm where single research teams are centred on studying navigation in a single genus or species towards a more comprehensive evolutionary-centred view, searching systematically for behavioural analogies, and possibly for homologies in neural architecture between different taxa.
25 Investigating reafference mechanisms in visuomotor responses in fruitfly. A possible approach to study the predictive nature of a simple brain. Aram Megighian Marco Dal Maschio, Claudia Lodovichi Maria-Elena Miletto Petrazzini DPG, Mauro Zordan DBio In a fundamental experiment Mittealstedt and Von Holst (1950) showed that every time the brain generates a command to move, a duplicate copy (Efferenzkopie) of the signal is also sent to the sensory system making it possible for the nervous system to distinguish between the sensory signals generated by its own movement from those generated on the organism by the outside world. This solves the famous Merker’s worm dilemma (2005). “Earthworms display a swift withdrawal reflex to cutaneous touch mediated by giant fibers in the segmented worm’s ventral nerve cord. Consider the worm’s initiation of a crawling movement. Such a movement will produce sudden stimulation of numerous cutaneous receptors (“re-afference,” …), yet no with- drawal reflex is released to abort the movement. Apparently the worm’s simple nervous system discounts cutaneous stimulation contingent on self-produced movement as a stimulus for withdrawal.» The nervous system is therefore able to predict the “sensory” outcome of its actions. In our laboratory we use a simple nervous system (fruitfly) to study the mechanisms of reafference in visuomotor responses, attempting to correlate them to the predictive nature of nerve function.
26 Enhancing gait and balance in the elderly Emanuela Formaggio Maria Rubega, DNS Eng. Paola Contessa, Azienda Ospedale Università di Padova; Michela Agostini (physiotherapist), DNS Due to higher life expectancy the age and population structure in Europe will change. Therefore, research furthering lifelong health, active ageing and well-being for all will be a cornerstone of the successful adaptation of societies to demographic change. This project goal is to identify the most effective strategy to enhance gait and balance in the elderly (people aged > 65 y). Gait and balance will be assessed through wearable sensors (i.e., wireless electromyography, inertial measurement units and electroencephalography) during static and dynamic tasks. This project involves a multidisciplinary team of physiatrists, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and bioengineers (specialized in advanced biological signal processing and in biomechanics).
27 Developing effective telerehabilitation to promote adherence of the adolescents to home-based exercise therapy Stefano Masiero Maria Rubega, DNS; Emanuela Formaggio, DNS Eng. Paola Contessa, Azienda Ospedale Università di Padova; Michela Agostini (physiotherapist), DNS The SARS-CoV-2 health emergency has demonstrated the need for developing structured telemedicine systems. Moreover, The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has disproportionately impacted youth at a crucial stage. Telemedicine allows enhancing health care in critical environments, to protect health and life of the most vulnerable patients such as adolescents.
The project aims to accomplish two complementary goals: 1) To develop a telerehabilitation service for home-based exercise therapy based on web application and wearable sensors; 2) To investigate the impact of digital technology use in rehabilitation on adolescents.
This project involves a multidisciplinary team of physiatrists, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and bioengineers (specialized in advanced biological signal processing and in biomechanics).
28 Investigating neuronal correlates induced by robotic rehabilitation Emanuela Formaggio Maria Rubega, DNS Eng. Paola Contessa, Azienda Ospedale Università di Padova; Michela Agostini (physiotherapist), DNS Studies regarding the effectiveness of conventional and bimanual robot-based upper limb (UL) rehabilitation in subjects with neurological disorders is very limited. In the last years, conventional rehabilitation of the UL has been enriched by the development of robots as they can provide high-intensity, repetitive, interactive and task-specific exercises. The aim of the project is to explore the underlying neuronal mechanisms of UL recovery by using neurophysiological investigations and innovative robotic equipment available at the Padova University Hospital. This project involves a multidisciplinary team of physiatrists, physiotherapists, neuropsychologists and bioengineers (specialized in advanced biological signal processing and in biomechanics).
29 Multitasking as a clinical tool for cognitive assessment after brain damage. Anatomical and electrophysiological correlates of impairment and recovery. Mario Bonato Marco Zorzi This project investigates the impact of multitasking on cognitive performance in stroke patients. The degree of asymmetry in spatial processing, awareness of the disease and neurological damage//recovery will be compared. Computer-based multitasking will be paired with motor measures, lesion mapping and with changes in pupillary diameter (implicit index of cognitive effort) in order to better understand its potential for diagnosis and rehabilitation.
30 Time and space processing in Parkinson’s patients Mario Bonato Angelo Antonini, Roberta Biundo
31 Prediction of early and late responses to electroconvulsive therapy: clinical and neural factors Fabio Sambataro Enrico Collantoni
32 Network dynamics and circadian cycles in health and diseases Gian Michele Ratto Claudia Lodovichi, Valter Tucci Animal behaviour, from detection of sensory stimuli to learning, memory, and decision making, is encoded by distinct patterns of neuronal activity. This activity is highly dynamics in face of the constantly changing flux of information an animal receives and it varies according to the status of the individual and to the time of the day. We are interested in dissecting the mechanisms underlying these processes combining behaviour, in vivo electrophysiological recordings, multiphoton imaging and optogenetics.
33 Modeling Parkinson’s disease neurodegeneration by human midbrain organoids. Mario Bortolozzi Marco dal Maschio (PNC, UNIPD), Stefano Vassanelli (PNC, UNIPD) Jens Schwamborn (Univ. Luxembourg) The project is focused on Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder whose pathogenesis is poorly understood and, consequently, no mechanism-based treatments are available to stop or reverse its progression.The study will be performed both at the single cell and network level by a combination of advanced fluorescence optical microscopy and electrophysiology in a stem cell-derived model (organoid) that mimics in three-dimensions the complex architecture of the substantia nigra of the brain. The selected candidate will work at the Veneto Institute of Molecular Medicine (VIMM, Padova), where state-of-the-art biological and biophysical facilities are available.
34 Effects of bodily posture on resting state and cognitive processing in fMRI and hdEEG Chiara Spironelli Dante Mantini Marco Marino; Zaira Romeo
35 Comparing auditory hallucinations throughout the continuum: hearing voices from individuals with psychosis to healthy adults. The contribute of language lateralization, anxiety and personality traits. Chiara Spironelli Fabio Sambataro Marco Marino; Zaira Romeo
36 Dynamic causal modelling for system theory analysis of network properties and for active inference of cognitive and mental processing Alessandra Bertoldo TBD Maurizio Corbetta, Marco Zorzi, Samir Suweis, Giovanni Pezzulo, Sandro Zampieri, Adeel Razi Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) is a Bayesian scheme for constructing and comparing generative models of measured blood oxygen level-dependent signals. DCM is a generative top-down model based on a state space representation where the state refers to the hidden neural dynamic. The corresponding state matrix is the so-called effective connectivity (EC) that is interpreted as a representation of the causal interactions between each ordered brain region pair. The estimated EC allows to specify the form of the network (e.g., cyclic or acyclic network) and its graph-theoretical attributes (e.g., degree). In addition, since DCM is defined as a state-space model, linear system theory can be used to provide a detailed characterization of the temporal brain dynamics, including stability, controllability, and observability structural properties. DCM allows also to investigate mental processing in health and disease under the hypothesis that the brain uses a generative model to interact with its environment and shaping its responses through statistical regularities.
37 Functional, structural, effective, metabolic & molecular connectivity: understanding the spatio-temporal network dynamic communication underlying brain activity through MRI and metabolic and receptor PET imaging in healthy individuals and in pathology Alessandra Bertoldo TBD Maurizio Corbetta, Diego Cecchin, Manu S Goyal, Sharna Jamadar, F. Turkheimer In the past two decades connectomics has emerged as comprehensively approach able of characterizing brain network both in healthy and pathological individuals. Using graph analysis and connectomics, global and local topologic network properties can be assessed. My research activities require to deal with an increasing complexity in the description of the brain network organization at macroscale: molecular connectivity (i.e. based on neurotransmission) and metabolic connectivity enrich and complete the functional and structural connectomes allowing a deeper characterization and understanding of the brain behaviour and cognition. Thus, functional, structural, molecular and metabolic description of the brain are forming, at individual level, a “constellation” of networks linked through non-linear relations. This approach is also needed to improve knowledge about the complex interactions, and, finally, to understand the behavior of the brain system overall.
38 Cognitive, affective and behavioural correlates of healthy and pathological aging: from prevention to intervention Elisa Di Rosa Claudio Gentili, Valentina Cardi Daniela Mapelli, Erika Borella, Antonino Vallesi, Nicky Edelstyn
39 Intrinsic activity in deep generative models: understanding resting-state and predictive processing in the brain Marco Zorzi Maurizio Corbetta Alberto Testolin (UniPD), Giovanni Pezzulo (CNR) Neural activity during rest is thought to reflect the intrinsic dynamics of the brain’s generative model (Pezzulo, Zorzi, & Corbetta, TICS). The project will exploit deep recurrent neural networks to understand the role of intrinsic dynamics in generative models, both during rest and in preparation for task performance (predictive coding). In particular: i) the dynamical repertoire of intrinsic activity will be systematically explored in generative models as a function of network complexity and neurobiological plausibility, and ii) the observed dynamics will be compared to relevant neuroimaging and neurophysiological data.
40 Deep learning models for prediction of behavior and cognition from neuroimaging data in healthy and neurological populations Marco Zorzi Alessandra Bertoldo Alberto Testolin (UniPD), Maurizio Corbetta, Alessandro Salvalaggio Our previous work (e.g., Salvalaggio et al., 2021, Brain) has shown that machine learning can reliably predict behavioral and cognitive performance from neuroimaging data in stroke patients. The project aims to i) scale these methods to exploit the potential of deep learning, ii) leverage on large-scale open datasets (e.g., human connectome project) for transfer learning, and iii) compare the predictivity of different types of neuroimaging data, including structural, functional and effective connectivity.
41 Psychophysiological correlates of chemiosignals comunication Claudio Gentili Simone Messerotti Benvenuti In the framework of an Europenan Project we are studying how human odors influence perception and mood in healthy subjects and in individuals with subthreshold mood and anxiety disorders
42 VR experience, mood and psychophysiology Claudio Gentili Valentina Cardi
Giovanna Mioni
In the framework of an Europenan Project we are studying how hre-experiencing and manipulating eventrs in VR modify mood and level of anxiety
43 Mechanisms of Neuronal Adaptation Marco Dal Maschio Giorgio Nicoletti, Samir Suweis Daniel Maria Busiello At the sensory level, adaptation manifests as a progressive decay in the amplitude of the neuronal responses to repeated or prolonged sensory stimulation, typically measured as a progressive reduction of the stimulus-driven neuronal firing rate. While it is generally accepted and reported that inhibitory feedback mechanisms modulate the stimulus weight, there are different theories about the actual functional role of adaptation in controlling the information flow, optimal processing, and sensitivity calibration. We will use visuo-motor processessing in Zebrafish larvae and optical technologies to investigate these mechanisms.
44 The critical states of the Brain Marco Dal Maschio Fabrizio Lombardi, Samir Suweis Critical states marks the transition between ordered and disordered system configuration. Theory and modeling suggest that neural networks at criticality exhibit optimal processing and computing properties, including information transmission, information storage, dynamic range, metastable states, and computational power. We will use visuo-motor processessing in Zebrafish larvae and optical technologies to investigate these processes.

Priority Research-Bonded Fellowships (borse a tema vincolato)

45 Brain Network Functional and Structural disconnectivity in stroke (funding from Padova Neuroscience Center – PNC, from a donation by Mrs. Pivetta Eufrasia). PI: prof. Maurizio Corbetta Maurizio Corbetta
46 Neural bases of verbal memory at birth (funding from “Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione” ERC project: “Infant verbal Memory in Development: a window for understanding language constraints and brain plasticity from birth-IN-MIND” ERC GA# 101043216 – ERC-2021-STG (CUP C93C22003040005). PI: prof. Silvia Benavides Varela Silvia Benavides Varela Roma Siugzdaite, Judit Gervain
47 Investigating the role of sleep-like slow waves in a mouse mode for adult stroke (Funding from Dept. of Neuroscience, project NEMESIS, ERC 2022 SYG (HORIZON) 101071900. PI prof. Maurizio Corbetta) Maurizio Corbetta
48 Neurological mechanisms of network disruption and behavioural impairment after stroke (Funding from Dept. of Neuroscience, project NEMESIS, ERC 2022 SYG (HORIZON) 101071900. PI: prof. Maurizio Corbetta) Maurizio Corbetta
49 Sensorymotor cortical microcircuits and the pathogenesis of migraine (funding from Dept of Biomedical Sciences – DSB, DOR & residuals from other projects. PIs: Profs. Vassanelli & Pietrobon) Stefano Vassanelli Daniela Pietrobon Marco Dal Maschio, Marta Bisio Experimental and theoretical evidences suggest that alterations of sensorymotor microcircuits play a fundamental role in the origin of migraine and one of its electrophysiological correlate cortical spreading depression (CSD). Deviations from the physiological excitation/inhibition balance are believed to be a key factor as unveiled in mouse models of familial hemiplegic migraine type 1 (FHM1). This rare monogenic subtype of migraine is caused by missense mutation in the CACNA1A gene, with gain-of-function of CaV2.1 (P/Q-type) calcium channels causing enhanced excitatory neurotransmission. We will investigate the role of excitatory and inhibitory cortical neurons in a genetic mouse model of the disease focusing on the whisker sensorymotor system. We will take advantage of leading-edge techniques including high-density intracortical microelectrodes coupled to optogenetics in anesthetized and/or head-fixed awake mice to disentangle the interplay of somatosensory and primary motor cortices in the context of the origin of CSD
50 “Restoring brain connections between organoids and brain via intravital 3D bioprinting’. Borsa su fondi ERC starting grant – ConNect (PI: prof. Cecilia Laterza), DII Cecilia Laterza Marco Dal Maschio, Nicola Elvassore

PNRR-Priority Research-Bonded Fellowships (borse a tema vincolato)

51 Promotion of PSYChological HEALth and accessibility to low intensity treatment in clinical psychology – PSYCHEAL (funding: DM 118 Pubblica Amministrazione, PI: prof. Claudio Gentili, DPG) Claudio Gentili Psychological interventions will became more scalable and stratified according to population health management concept in their evolution. Low-intensity interventions are intended for individuals with mild psychological discomfort with the aim of preventing serious clinical evolutions with a significant increase in costs for public health and for the individual. These interventions must be carried out early, thus a screening system that stratifies the disorders in an adequate way is mandatory. The project, in collaboration with Veneto Region, aims to develop screening models and low-intensity interventions within the medicine of the territory, in nearby places and in Community Houses as well as to address individuals with moderately serious mental disorders to the specialist structures of the health network. The connection, developed during the project, will find a direct impact on the level of regional health planning, contributing to the operational efficiency of the Departments of Mental Health and Addiction.
52 Digitalize to shorten the distance: improving cognitive assessment by computer-based multitasking (funding: DM 118 Transizioni Digitali e Ambientali, PI: prof. Mario Bonato, DPG) Mario Bonato Marco Zorzi This project aims to create new digital tools for cognitive assessment. We intend to study the impact of multitasking by comparing its effects in healthy and pathological ageing. Multitasking will concern cognitive tasks involving different cognitive functions (attention, memory, space processing), it will be computer-based and combined with the measurement of implicit indices such as variations in pupil diameter (a proxy of cognitive effort). The aim will be creating new digitalized experimental tests for measuring cognitive performance under conditions of cognitive load to be used for the detection and rehabilitation of cognitive deficits. These tools will be standardized and made freely available to the clinical and scientific community. The digital conversion also aims to improve the sensitivity and reduce the temporal and economic costs of the neuropsychological assessment, allowing a more sensitive and objective measurement of medium-mild attention deficits that are difficult to detect from paper and pencil tests. The creation of digitized tests for measuring cognitive performance will allow the remote use of these tools and the possibility of creating a personal online folder to collect the data of cognitive assessments previously carried out in digitized form, allowing easy monitoring of their evolution over time. A line of research in collaboration with the IRCCS Medea of Pieve di Soligo and the rehabilitation centers of ULSS 8 Berica will focus on cognitive performance in patients affected by brain injury of both vascular and traumatic aetiology. Cognitive indices related to multitasking will be compared with awareness of the disease and objective measures of neurological damage and recovery. To answer questions regarding the generalizability of the measures to more ecological contexts, a group of elderly people will participate in a data collection that will take place in a highly complex simulated reality environment (CAVE: v=zhoHsvpa1zE) at the Department of General Psychology of the University of Padua. The project includes a six-month research period abroad and free access to the tools used and to the data collected.
53 As if there was no tomorrow: future time perspective and pro-environmental behaviors (funding: DM 118 PNRR, PI: prof. Giorgia Cona, DPG) Giorgia Cona Andrea Spoto Time perspective describes how individuals think and behave in relation with past, present and future. The project focuses on the relationship between time perspective aspects, its neural correlates and environmentally responsible behaviors. It will sequentially involve: 1) realizing a tool to measure an individual’s time perspective going beyond the existing batteries, 2) identifying what are the brain correlates of time perspective, 3) evaluating relationships between time perspective and sustainable behaviors; 4) testing the efficacy of time perspective-specific imagery techniques in promoting change, in the direction of a behavior both effectively sustainable and positive for mental health.