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Space, Attention and Action Lab (SAN_Lab)

Space, Attention and Action Lab


ERC Sectors

LS5_7 - Sensory systems, sensation and perception, including pain
LS5_8 - Neural basis of behaviour


The GdR is specialized in the study of attention and motor systems in the human brain, particularly as affected by lesions, resulting in unilateral spatial neglect syndromes and disorders of spatial, motor and body awareness.

The research topics mainly concern the study of attentional processes (with particular focus on spatial attention), action and motor awareness and their neuro-functional bases in healthy individuals and in neurological patients with disorders of attention and/or disorders of awareness of personal and extrapersonal space (neglect, extinction, etc.), or motor awareness (anosognosia). The research methods used are those of Cognitive Neuroscience and Experimental Neuropsychology. The results obtained have contributed to the understanding of: 1) the nature of alterations in the conscious representation of space and action and the factors that affect these processes in patients and healthy individuals (such as stimuli characteristics, the cognitive load, or even the laterality and the modality of the subjects’ response); 2) the neural correlates of visuospatial, tactile and motor awareness; 3) the existence of mutual influences between input (perception) and output (action) factors in the construction of spatial awareness.

The GdR work is also directed at understanding the neuroplasticity of the visuo-spatial and sensori-motor systems and their cognitive aspects using non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS and tDCS) and its combination with neuroimaging (fMRI and EEG) in the healthy brain and in neurological or psychiatric patients. We investigate the potential of rTMS and tDCS for the treatment of cognitive and motor deficits not only in post-stroke patients, but also in patients with other types of brain disorders such as Tourette's syndrome, focal dystonia, depression, and gambling disorder. These studies are conducted in collaboration with Turin neurologists and international brain stimulation experts. We have shown that it is possible to observe spatial attention deficits even in patients with movement disorders such as dystonia and Parkinson's disease. We have also identified effective brain stimulation protocols for the treatment of specific cognitive and motor disorders and shown how it is possible to reduce symptoms in patients with different types of brain diseases. In some cases, we have even used fMRI to identify neuronal changes induced by brain stimulation that are associated with behavioral effects.

Another research topic of the GdR is space neuropsychology. As part of these activities, we study the human response to the space environment, focusing in particular on the effects of altered gravitational input and life in isolated, confined, and extreme environments on cognition and performance. In relation to this topic, the GdR has participated with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in a series of NASA studies, demonstrating neural plasticity phenomena (measured by TMS and fMRI) triggered by terrestrial models of microgravity. The GdR has also collaborated with local companies to study deep space habitats for long duration missions. Finally, the GdR, as PI of an international team and in collaboration with ESA, is investigating the effects of microgravity on the orientation of spatial attention and motor awareness using parabolic flight through the GraviTo project (Spatial Attention and Motor Awareness in Altered Gravitational Environments). In parallel with GraviTo, the GdR is studying the contribution of the vestibular function to cognition (e.g., spatial attention) in patients with vestibular disorders.



Selected Publications for the three areas of research (last 10 years):

Topic 1:

Ricci, R., Caldano, M., Sabatelli, I., Cirillo, E., Gammeri, R., Cesim, E., Salatino, A., & Berti, A. (2021). When Right Goes Left: Phantom Touch Induced by Mirror Box Procedure in Healthy Individuals. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 15, 734235.

Salatino, A., Chillemi, G., Gontero, F., Poncini, M., Pyasik, M., Berti, A., & Ricci, R. (2019). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of Posterior Parietal Cortex Modulates Line-Length Estimation but Not Illusory Depth Perception. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1169.

Gammeri, R., Iacono, C., Ricci, R.* (*corresponding), & Salatino, A.* (2020). Unilateral Spatial Neglect After Stroke: Current Insights. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 16, 131–152.

Chillemi, G., Calamuneri, A., Quartarone, A., Terranova, C., Salatino, A., Cacciola, A., Milardi, D., & Ricci, R. (2019). Endogenous orientation of visual attention in auditory space. Journal of advanced research, 18, 95–100.

Ricci, R., Salatino, A., Li, X., Funk, A. P., Logan, S. L., Mu, Q., Johnson, K. A., Bohning, D. E., & George, M. S. (2012). Imaging the neural mechanisms of TMS neglect-like bias in healthy volunteers with the interleaved TMS/fMRI technique: preliminary evidence. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 6, 326.


Topic 2

Salatino, A., Miccolis, R., Gammeri, R., Ninghetto, M., Belli, F., Nobili, M., Mouraux, A., & Ricci, R. (2021). Improvement of Impulsivity and Decision Making by Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation of the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex in a Patient with Gambling Disorder. Journal of gambling studies, 10.1007/s10899-021-10050-1. Advance online publication.

Ninghetto, M., Gammeri, R., Miccolis, R., Nobili, M., Salatino, A., & Ricci, R. (2019). Effects of Repeated Sessions of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Major Depressive Disorder and Cognition. The journal of ECT, 35(3), e32–e33.

Ricci, R., Ghiggia, A., La Rosa, I., Milano, A., Troni, W., George, M. S., Borckardt, J. J., Castelli, L., & Salatino, A. (2018). Anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation of the motor cortex reduces chronic pain in Alcock canal syndrome. Brain stimulation, 11(3), 648–650.

Ricci, R., Salatino, A., Siebner, H. R., Mazzeo, G., & Nobili, M. (2014). Normalizing biased spatial attention with parietal rTMS in a patient with focal hand dystonia. Brain stimulation, 7(6), 912–914.

Salatino, A., Momo, E., Nobili, M., Berti, A., & Ricci, R. (2014). Awareness of symptoms amelioration following low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in a patient with Tourette syndrome and comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder. Brain stimulation, 7(2), 341–343.


Topic 3

Salatino, A., Iacono, C., Gammeri, R., Chiadò, S. T., Lambert, J., Sulcova, D., Mouraux, A., George, M. S., Roberts, D. R., Berti, A., & Ricci, R. (2021). Zero gravity induced by parabolic flight enhances automatic capture and weakens voluntary maintenance of visuospatial attention. NPJ microgravity, 7(1), 29.

Musso, G., Capra, R., Ricci, R., Salatino, A. (2019) Human Factors Engineering Activities for Past, Present and Future Manned Space Habitats. In: Stanton N. (eds) Advances in Human Aspects of Transportation. AHFE 2018. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 786. Springer, Cham.

Musso, G., Ferraris, S., Fenoglio, F., Zafarana, A., Salatino, A., Ricci, R. (2018) Habitability Issues in Long Duration Space Missions Far from Earth. In: Stanton N. (eds) Advances in Human Aspects of Transportation. AHFE 2017. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 597. Springer, Cham.



Last update: 23/09/2022 17:03
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