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Welcome to The Brain Stimulation Lab @ HW

The lab is devoted to the study of body representation and disgust processing. 

CURRENT PROJECTS

Neural basis and kinematic parameters of reaching and grasping”

The study aims at exploring the neural basis of the influence of the tactile versionof the RHI on hand movement’s parameters. By means of comparing kinematic parameters before and after a rubber hand illusion, we will be able to explore if the changes related to proprioception, in absence of vision, influence hand physical movements.

Investigator: Federico Brusa

“Body Ownership: comparison between lower and upper limbs ownership with the tactile version of the RHI and the RFI”

The study aims at exploring both behavioural parameters and the neural basis of the ubber limbs illusion, using tactile information only and focusing on the comparison of upper and lower body parts.

 Investigator: Federico Brusa

“Body Ownership: how the size of the limbs affects the body ownership?”

The study aims at continuing the adventure begun with the study “Body Ownership: comparison between lower and upper limbs ownership with the tactile version of the RHI and the RFI”. This time we aim at understanding the role of size: is bigger always better???

Investigator: Federico Brusa

"Lateralization of body schema components"

The aim of this study is to explore if the same areas of the brain are involved in representing the body, both when the instructions to rotate body parts as if they are ours are explicit and when the process is automatic.

Investigator: Myrto Efstathiou, Francesca Magnani

PAST PROJECTS 

Enhancing memory binding abilities across age using tDCS”  Project funded by Alzheimer Scotland Action on Dementia. Project ended in May 2019. Stay tuned for results!

Recent studies suggest that transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) can enhance Visual Short term Memory (VSTM) capacity (Tseng et al., 2012). Binding is a cognitive construct that operates in VSTM but can be dissociated from other VSTM functions (Parra et al. 2014). Binding is vulnerable to abnormal variants of ageing such as Alzheimer’s disease and declines dramatically in older adults with cognitive impairment (e.g., MCI) who are at the highest risk of developing dementia (Koppara et al., 2015). Proving that binding functions can be enhanced using brain electrical stimulation would help design non-pharmacological interventions aimed at enhancing memory abilities relevant to everyday life functioning. To this aim, we will apply tDCS to a brain network pivotal for VSTM binding (Parra et al., 2014). Secondly, we will investigate the electrophysiological changes related to the stimulation and, finally, we will explore the impact of ageing on memory benefits drawn from tDCS. 

Investigating the desire to be disabled in the United Kingdom

Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) is a condition in which sufferers have a desire to modify their able body in favour of a disabled one. BIID has recently been included in the ICD-11, and most of the knowledge on this condition has been obtained through studies based in the US or in Germany. Furthermore, the debate is open on whether BIID is originating from a brain dysfunction or is more the result of cultural and environmental influences. The objective of this study is to explore the prevalence and features of BIID in the UK, for the first time. An online survey allowed to identify 23 suffering from BIID. Our data show that most of BIID features in the UK are similar to those reported for other countries. However, data on lateralization of the desire and on sexual orientation differ from known rates. Importantly, the number of individuals seeking help from families and health professionals also differ from previous reports, with much fewer participants trusting disclosing their desire. In summary, our study shows that BIID is present also in the UK, and that we cannot exclude a role of culture into how the condition manifests.

Investigators: Anna Sedda, Myrto Efstathiou, Lucy Warriner, Halloran, Nick

Related outputs: Efstathiou, M., Halloran, Nick , Sedda, A. "Prevalence of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) in the United Kingdom (UK)" (Poster presentation at "The Multifaceted Body: Updates into Body Representation and Embodiment" [EPS sponsored workshop] Friday 29th June 2018, Edinburgh, UK)

Modulating the SWI using tDCS” Stay tuned for results!

In the Size-Weight Illusion (SWI), small objects feel heavier than large objects of the same mass. Recently, the SWI has been explained throughintegration of weight and size perception in ventral premotor areas. The aim of our study is to test this hypothesis by actively manipulating neural activity in this putative network using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Heatlhy participants were required to lift and rate the heaviness of objects which varied in mass and size, thus inducing the SWI. 

Investigators: Anna Sedda , Myrto Efstathiou, Lucy Warriner, Angela A. Barrie,  Gavin Buckingham 

Related outputs: Sedda A., Efstathiou M., Warriner L., Barrie A.A., Buckingham G. “The role of left hemisphere integration networks in the size-weight illusion” (Poster  presentation at the BACN meeting, Plymouth, September 2017)

Lost in BSL translation: Psychology meets BSL interpreters” Project funded by HWU Annual Fund Large Project Grants 2017 and 2018. Stay tuned for results!

The aim of the project is to promote awareness of the needs of hearing impaired individuals in a health setting in both future psychologists and British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting and translation (I&T). The project will implement sessions in the form of formal training and role-plays, where professional psychologists and BSL interpreters, together with deaf individuals acting as patients, will actively interact with students in Psychology and in BSL I&T in a mock clinical setting. 

Body Representation in BSL” Stay tuned for results!

Body representation (BR) refers to the mental representation of motor, sensory, emotional and semantic information about the physical body. This cognitive representation is used in our everyday life, continuously, even though most of the time we do not appreciate it consciously. In some cases, BR is vital to be able to communicate. A crucial feature of signed languages (SLs), for instance, is that body parts such as hands are used to communicate. Nevertheless, little is known about BR in SL: is the communicative function of the body overwriting the physical constraints?

Investigators: Federico Brusa, Lukas Kretzschmar, Francesca Giulia Magnani, Graham Turner, Maria Garraffa, Anna Sedda

Related outputs: Garraffa M., Turner G., Magnani F.G., Colzi C., Sedda A. “Talking with hands: body representation in British Sign Language speakers” (Oral presentation by Sedda A. at the British Neuropsychological Society, London, march 2017).