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PUPILTRAITS: PUBLICATIONS

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Papers that acknowledge PUPILTRAITS

EUROPE PMC: Biomarkers of individual differences in human cortical visual processing

2019

2019 (back to top)

Anobile, G., Guerrini, G., Burr, D. C., Monti, M., Del Lucchese, B. & Cicchini, G. M. (2019). Spontaneous perception of numerosity in pre-school children, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 1906 (286), 20191245. link

There is strong evidence that humans can make rough estimates of the numerosity of a set of items, almost from birth. However, as numerosity covaries with many non-numerical variables, the idea of a direct number sense has been challenged. Here we applied two different psychophysical paradigms to demonstrate the spontaneous perception of numerosity in a cohort of young pre-school children. The results of both tasks showed that even at that early developmental stage, humans spontaneously base the perceptual choice on numerosity, rather than on area or density. Precision in one of these tasks predicted mathematical abilities. The results reinforce strongly the idea of a primary number sense and provide further evidence linking mathematical skills to the sensory precision of the spontaneous number sense, rather than to mechanisms involved in handling explicit numerosity judgements or extensive exposure to mathematical teaching.

Lunghi, C., Galli-Resta, L., Binda, P., Cicchini, G. M., Placidi, G., Falsini, B., et al. (2019). Visual Cortical Plasticity in Retinitis Pigmentosa, Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science, 7 (60), 2753. link

Purpose: Retinitis pigmentosa is a family of genetic diseases inducing progressive photoreceptor degeneration. There is no cure for retinitis pigmentosa, but prospective therapeutic strategies are aimed at restoring or substituting retinal input. Yet, it is unclear whether the visual cortex of retinitis pigmentosa patients retains plasticity to react to the restored visual input.

Methods: To investigate short-term visual cortical plasticity in retinitis pigmentosa, we tested the effect of short-term (2 hours) monocular deprivation on sensory ocular dominance (measured with binocular rivalry) in a group of 14 patients diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa with a central visual field sparing greater than 20° in diameter.

Results: After deprivation most patients showed a perceptual shift in ocular dominance in favor of the deprived eye (P < 0.001), as did control subjects, indicating a level of visual cortical plasticity in the normal range. The deprivation effect correlated negatively with visual acuity (r = ?0.63, P = 0.015), and with the amplitude of the central 18° focal electroretinogram (r = ?0.68, P = 0.015) of the deprived eye, revealing that in retinitis pigmentosa stronger visual impairment is associated with higher plasticity.

Conclusions: Our results provide a new tool to assess the ability of retinitis pigmentosa patients to adapt to altered visual inputs, and suggest that in retinitis pigmentosa the adult brain has sufficient short-term plasticity to benefit from prospective therapies.

Binda, P., Eldor, R., Huerta, C., Adams, J., Lancaster, J., Fox, P., et al. (2019). Exenatide modulates visual cortex responses, Diabetes Metab Res Rev, e3167. PDF - link

BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence suggests that metabolism affects brain physiology. Here, we examine the effect of GLP-1 on simple visual-evoked functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) responses in cortical areas. METHODS: Lean (n = 10) and nondiabetic obese (n = 10) subjects received exenatide (a GLP-1 agonist) or saline infusion, and fMRI responses to visual stimuli (food and nonfood images) were recorded. We analysed the effect of exenatide on fMRI signals across the cortical surface with special reference to the visual areas. We evaluated the effects of exenatide on the raw fMRI signal and on the fMRI signal change during visual stimulation (vs rest). RESULTS: In line with previous studies, we find that exenatide eliminates the preference for food (over nonfood) images present under saline infusion in high-level visual cortex (temporal pole). In addition, we find that exenatide (vs saline) also modulates the response of early visual areas, enhancing responses to both food and nonfood images in several extrastriate occipital areas, similarly in obese and lean participants. Unexpectedly, exenatide increased fMRI raw signals (signal intensity during rest periods without stimulation) in a large occipital region, which were negatively correlated to BMI. CONCLUSIONS: In both lean and obese individuals, exenatide affects neural processing in visual cortex, both in early visual areas and in higher order areas. This effect may contribute to the known effect of GLP1 analogues on food-related behaviour.

Benedetto, A., Morrone, C. & Tomassini, A. (2019). The Common Rhythm of Action and Perception., Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, PDF

Research in the last decade has undermined the idea of perception as a continuous process, providing strong empirical support for its rhythmic modulation. More recently, it has been revealed that the ongoing motor processes influence the rhythmic sampling of sensory information. In this review, we will focus on a growing body of evidence suggesting that oscillation-based mechanisms may structure the dynamic interplay between the motor and sensory system and provide a unified temporal frame for their effective coordination. We will describe neurophysiological data, primarily collected in animals, showing phase-locking of neuronal oscillations to the onset of (eye) movements. These data are complemented by novel evidence in humans, which demonstrate the behavioral relevance of these oscillatory modulations and their domain-general nature. Finally, we will discuss the possible implications of these modulations for action-perception coupling mechanisms.

Pomè, A., Anobile, G., Cicchini, G. M., Scabia, A. & Burr, D. C. (2019). Higher attentional costs for numerosity estimation at high densities, Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, PDF

 

Humans can estimate numerosity over a large range, but the precision with which they do so varies considerably over that range. For very small sets, within the subitizing range of up to about four items, estimation is rapid and errorless. For intermediate numerosities, errors vary directly with the numerosity, following Weber’s law, but for very high numerosities, with very dense patterns, thresholds continue to rise with the square root of numerosity. This suggests that three different mechanisms operate over the number range. In this study we provide further evidence for three distinct numerosity mechanisms, by studying their dependence on attentional resources. We measured discrimination thresholds over a wide range of numerosities, while manipulating attentional load with both visual and auditory dual tasks. The results show that attentional effects on thresholds vary over the number range. Both visual and auditory attentional loads strongly affect subitizing, much more than for larger numerosities. Attentional costs remain stable over the estimation range, then rise again for very dense patterns. These results reinforce the idea that numerosity is processed by three separates but probably overlapping systems.

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