The IUSS-Maugeri Cognitive Neuroscience Lab is a multidisciplinary research laboratory that investigates the neural bases of the cognitive processes underlying normal and pathological human behavior, via several techniques applied on different populations. The lab has been established, in 2018, in the context of a scientific collaboration between the School for Advanced Studies IUSS and the IRCCS Istituti Clinici Scientifici (ICS) Maugeri, both located in Pavia (Northern Italy).
The IUSS school is part of the Italian network of “Scuole Speciali”, providing diploma courses for the best university students in Pavia, as well as advanced PhD courses. In particular, the members of the IUSS Center for Neurocognition, Epistemology and theoretical Syntax (NEtS) perform advanced research in clinical and cognitive neuroscience, with a particular emphasis on the cognitive and neural bases of decision-making (Neuroeconomics), social cognition (Affective and social neuroscience), memory and language, processes, both in health and disease.
The IRCCS ICS Maugeri, a leading clinical and scientific institution in the field of rehabilitation medicine, is composed by 20 Scientific Institutes spread over the entire national territory, integrated with the national health and clinical research system, and hosts 40 research laboratories.
The scientific activity of the lab, which is located within the main branch of ICS Maugeri in Pavia, is based on the cooperation between researchers, postdoc, Ph.D students as well as interns from IUSS and different Maugeri labs/wards. In particular, for neuroimaging research the lab works in close partnership with the Radiology and Nuclear medicine deparments, hosting a 3 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner (GE-MR750 Discovery), fully equipped for structural and functional neuroimaging studies, and a CT-PET scanner (GE Discovery 690).
Besides structural and functional MRI, other research techniques are used to study cognitive processes and their neural correlates. The lab is currently equipped with a Faraday-cage shielded silent cabin hosting a high-density 128-channels EEG system with active electrodes, 5 stimulators for high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS/rTMS) and an eye-tracker device. Two different sets of filter boxes and cables additionally allow to perform tDCS within the MRI scanner, to assess in vivo the effects of neuromodulation on resting-state or task-related brain activity. An MRI-compatible microphone allows to study in vivo the neural bases of language production. Further equipment includes PCs for performing experiments, devices for communicating with experimental subjects (e.g. response boxes, webcams and microphones), and high-performance servers for data analysis.
The main research topic concerns the neurophysiological bases of different cognitive processes, and particularly decision-making (neuroeconomics), social cognition (social and affective neuroscience), memory and language. The neural bases of these processes are investigated both in normal and pathological conditions, e.g. addiction, dementia and other neuro-psychiatric disorders. The activity of the lab, indeed, is grounded in the notion that a real advancement of knowledge in cognitive neurosciences requires a continuous integration and cross-fertilization between correlational evidence provided by neuroimaging techniques and causal evidence provided by either a lesional approach or neuromodulation techniques such as TMS or tDCS. Research activity entails both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, including the study of the neural correlates of cognitive training in normal subjects, and cognitive remediation in impaired populations.
The lab members are highly-skilled in all the typical stages of research in clinical and cognitive neuroscience, i.e. from the definition of the experimental design to data collection and data analysis. In the case of neuroimaging studies with fMRI or EEG, our areas of specialty include the investigation of brain activity and connectivity, both at rest and while performing sensory/cognitive/motor tasks. This approach typically entails studying the neuro-structural bases of individual differences in cognitive performance (either in normal or pathological conditions) via cutting-edge techniques such as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to address structural connectivity, or morphometry to highlight different metrics of brain structure, e.g. grey matter volume/density or surface properties (thickness, gyrification, cortical complexity, sulcus depth).
The lab is headed by Nicola Canessa, associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at the IUSS. Other components mainly include researchers, post-doc students, Ph.D students and interns from IUSS or ICS Maugeri.
- Gianpaolo Basso
- Chiara Crespi
- Chiara Cerami
- Caterina Galandra
- Maria Arioli
- Eleonora Catricalà
Part of our research is performed in collaboration with other labs or scientific institutions located worldwide, e.g.:
- University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan
- IRCCS Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy
- Division of Neuroscience, IRCCS San Raffaele Research Institute, Milan, Italy
- IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Besta, Milan, Italy
- Management and Technology Department, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy
- Department of Management, Technology, and Economics (D-MTEC), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich)
- Neurolinguistics laboratory, National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Moscow