Single neurons recording. We record the activity of single neurons while experimental subjects perform a variety of motor, perceptual and cognitive tasks. We use different types of recently developed multielectrodic probes endowed with a series of recording sites arranged along a single shaft. In this way, we can simultaneously record neuronal activity at different depths along the same penetration, in order to unravel anatomo-functional relationship between different neuronal populations activated during a specific task.
By sampling neuronal activity at 40 kHz with a multichannel recording system, we can also study the possible relationship between neurons functional properties, assessed trough specific tasks, and the spatio-temporal features of their action potential. Based on spike shape, this approach could be useful to distinguish different classes of cortical neurons for a better understanding of their relative contribution to information processing.
Intracortical microstimulation. Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) has been proved to be extremely useful to verify the causal contribution of neuronal activity to specific functions. In particular, the behavioral time-scale ICMS, delivered at precise cortical sites, allowed us to characterize the functional organization of the insula and its role in emotion and others behaviors.
Injection of drugs. Multielectrodic probes used for single neurons recordings are also endowed with specific channels for microfluidic, enabling us to inject drugs into the brain while simultaneously recording. Subjects's behavioral performance in specific tasks can therefore be correlated to the chemical manipulation (enhancement, i.e. by injecting bicuculline, or inhibition, i.e. by injecting muscimol) of neuronal activity.
The main goal of EEG lab is to investigate the temporo-spatial dynamics of brain processing during the exposure to social stimuli, including complex actions, emotions and language. These studies allow the understanding of the basic mechanisms underpinning the intersubjective interactions in healthy subjects. Two different techniques are employed:
High-density EEG. A 128 channel system will be used to study the time course and dynamics of brain processing. This technique has the advantages of allowing fine temporal analysis that is not reachable using the fMRI and, furthermore, it can be used with healthy and pathological individuals. Algorithms will be also developed to localize the sources of EEG signals on MNI maps.
Stereo-EEG. Stereo-EEG technique consists in the intracranial EEG recording from human epileptic patients for clinical purposes. The collaboration with the Azienda Ospedaliera Ospedale Niguarda Ca' Granda in Milan, one of the leading centers for this technique, allow us to investigate the mechanisms underlying the social and motor functions by simultaneously recording or electrically stimulating up to 200 cortical and subcortical sites. Stereo-EEG links a high spatial resolution, unavailable to the EEG, to a temporal resolution, unavailable to neuroimaging techniques.
The EEG lab has a specific part dedicated to the study of pathologies specifically characterized by the impairment in the intersubjectivity such as autism and schizophrenia.
The main mission of the MRI lab is to serve our patients and community via our work. We envision imaging genetics as a tool for unraveling the complexities of autism spectrum disorders and major psychoses and its genetic components -- not an end in and of itself. Furthermore, we are refining the intermediate phenotype approach through the use of multimodal techniques, including structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as EEG-fMRI approaches. To pursue our research goals we use the following techniques: structural MRI for the analysis of brain morphometry; functional MRI for the investigation of neural responses and connectivity.