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From finger tapping to the social brain: advanced methods for the estimation of brain activity and connectivity in humans

Laura Astolfi
Data dell'evento: 
Martedì, 1 December, 2015 - 10:30
Aula A2 - Via Ariosto, 25
Laura Astolfi, vincitrice della procedura selettiva di chiamata per un posto di ricercatore a tempo determinato di tipologia B nel SSD ING-INF/06, terra' presso questo dipartimento un seminario sulle attivita'  di ricerca da lei svolte e in corso di svolgimento. Il seminario avra' luogo martedì 1 dicembre 2015 alle 10:30 in aula A2 (Sede DIAG - via Ariosto 25). 
Understanding the brain organization that underlies human complex functions is a central problem both for basic research and for clinical applications. The description of brain circuits active during specific tasks (or even at rest), can provide important insights into the neural mechanisms at the basis of motor and cognitive functions, their reorganization resulting from different pathological conditions and their recovery, whether spontaneous or due to a specific treatment (brain plasticity). Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive, low-cost, portable technique for the investigation of brain activity, that provides the time resolution (milliseconds) necessary to follow the brain dynamics and to perform an effective estimation of brain functional connectivity. In this seminar, the methods at the basis of the estimation of brain connectivity in the time, frequency and time-frequency domains will be introduced, together with the most recent advancements in this field. The lecture will discuss the advantages of performing such analysis in the EEG source space, and how a graph theory approach can be adopted to summarize and quantify brain networks properties. The importance and role of the statistical assessment of connectivity patterns will be also illustrated. Finally, some applications will be shown, ranging from the study of cortical reorganization following motor or cognitive rehabilitation to the description of social cognitive functions (empathy, cooperation, individualistic behavior). To this last purpose, the novel technique of Hyperscanning, or simultaneous multi-subjects EEG recordings, will be introduced. In conclusion, future directions of these studies and possible interactions with other fields of research will be critically discussed.

*Bio Sketch*

Laura Astolfi received her Master Degree in Electronics Engineering from Sapienza University of Rome in 2003 and her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University of Bologna in 2007. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer, Control, and Management Engineering  at Sapienza University of Rome. In February 2014 she got the National Scientific Qualification for the position of Associate Professor in Bioengineering. In December 2014 she got the National Scientific Qualification for the position of Full Professor in Bioengineering. She authored 102 papers in International Peer-reviewed Journals (Scopus), 2 books and more than 100 contributions to International Schools and Conferences. Her h-index is 23 (source: Scopus, 29: Google Scholar), her total number of citations is 1478 (Scopus; 2760 Scholar). Her total Impact Factor is 166.669. She has served as Guest Editor for International Journals like the Journal of Physiology-Paris, Brain Topography and Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience and she is currently an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Bioelectromagnetism. She has been elected Chair of the IEEE EMBS Technical Committee on Biomedical Signal Processing (2016-2018). She received several national and international awards for her scientific activity, among which the Best Under-40 Researcher Award at Sapienza University in 2010, the Trainee Travel Award by the Human Brain Mapping Society in 2011, the Young Investigator Competition by the ISBET Society in 2009, the Best PhD Thesis Award by the Italian Society for Biomedical Engineering in 2008, the Young Investigator Award by the Brain Connectivity Society in 2006, the Young Investigator Award by the International Society for Functional Source Imaging in 2005. She participated in several national (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Private Foundations), European (7th FP) and US (NSF and NIH) funded research projects. She has been National Representative to two EU COST Actions. She is currently the PI of a MIUR funded project FIRB "Brain-to-brain connectivity from simultaneous neuroelectric and autonomic multi-subjects recordings as a new tool to study human social interaction". Her research activity include brain connectivity, high resolution EEG source reconstruction, EEG applications to neurorehabilitation, simultaneous recordings from multiple subjects (hyperscanning), consciousness, cognition and social Neuroscience. 

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