by De Lucia N, Grossi D, Trojano L
Closing-in (CI) in visuo-constructional tasks occurs when a drawing is reproduced close to or superimposed on the original model. CI has been often observed in Alzheimer disease (AD) patients and only rarely investigated in patients with vascular dementia (VD). Recent studies suggested that CI in AD patients represents a default behavior released by frontal-executive impairments, but the cognitive mechanisms behind this phenomenon in VD patients have not been clarified. We aimed to ascertain whether the same mechanisms could determine CI in VD and in AD patients. For this purpose we explored whether CI is related to frontal-executive or visuospatial impairments in a prospective sample of AD and VD patients, and investigated whether CI can be induced by a secondary task in patients with either disease.
on European journal of neurology
by Santangelo G, Vitale C, Trojano L, Angrisano MG, Picillo M, Errico D, Agosti V, Grossi D, Barone P
Subthreshold depression (SubD) is characterized by clinically relevant depressive symptoms not meeting criteria for major depression. The possible association of SubD with subjective cognitive complaints and/or objective cognitive impairments was investigated in a sample of consecutive, non-demented Parkinson's disease (PD) outpatients.
on Human movement science
by Conson M, Trojano L, Vitale C, Mazzarella E, Allocca R, Barone P, Grossi D, Santangelo G
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that mentally performing an action and mentally transforming body-parts entail simulation of one's own body movements, consistent with predictions of embodied cognition theories. However, the involvement of embodied simulation in mental transformation of whole-body images is still disputed. Here, we assessed own body transformation in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients with symptoms most affecting the left or the right body side. PD patients were required to perform left-right judgments on front-facing or back-facing human figures, and a letter rotation task. Results demonstrated that PD patients were selectively impaired in judging the side of back-facing human figures corresponding to their own most affected side, but performed as well as healthy subjects on mental transformation of front-facing bodies and on letter rotation. These findings demonstrate a parallel impairment between motor and mental simulation mechanisms in PD patients, thus highlighting the specific contribution of embodied cognition to mental transformation of whole-body images.
on Neurological sciences : official journal of the Italian Neurological Society and of the Italian Society of Clinical Neurophysiology
by Santangelo G, Trojano L, Barone P, Grossi D, Vitale C
on Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR
by Grossi D, Marcone R, Cinquegrana T, Gallucci M
Echolalia is a verbal disorder, defined as 'a meaningless repetition of the words of others'. It is pathological, automatic and non-intentional behaviour, often observed in a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders and above all in autism. We assume that echolalia is an imitative behaviour that is due to difficulties in inhibiting automatic repetition as seen in patients with frontal lobe damage. Our aim is to study the occurrence of echolalia under experimental conditions to investigate the nature of the phenomenon and its relationship with the severity of autism.
on Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS
by De Lucia N, Grossi D, Maria Fasanaro A, Carpi S, Trojano L
Closing-in (CI) refers to copying drawings near to or superimposed on the original model, and is often observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. Contrasting hypotheses have been suggested to explain CI, but no prospective study has directly verified these interpretations. We evaluated the role of frontal/executive versus visuo-spatial impairments in a prospective sample of AD patients, and also explored whether different types of CI are related to specific neuropsychological tasks. We enrolled 64 AD patients who underwent copying tasks and an extensive neuropsychological assessment of visuo-spatial and visuo-constructional skills, frontal/executive abilities and anterograde memory. AD patients with CI showed more severe impairment on frontal/executive functions than AD patients without CI. Moreover, the tendency to produce copies superimposed on the model was selectively associated with poor inhibitory control for irrelevant responses. On this basis, we suggest that different CI phenomena could be ascribed to distinctive frontal/executive defects.
on Cognitive processing
by Ponari M, Trojano L, Grossi D, Conson M
We investigated whether the extra-/introversion personality dimension can influence processing of others' eye gaze direction and emotional facial expression during a target detection task. On the basis of previous evidence showing that self-reported trait anxiety can affect gaze-cueing with emotional faces, we also verified whether trait anxiety can modulate the influence of intro-/extraversion on behavioral performance. Fearful, happy, angry or neutral faces, with either direct or averted gaze, were presented before the target appeared in spatial locations congruent or incongruent with stimuli's eye gaze direction. Results showed a significant influence of intra-/extraversion dimension on gaze-cueing effect for angry, happy, and neutral faces with averted gaze. Introverts did not show the gaze congruency effect when viewing angry expressions, but did so with happy and neutral faces; extraverts showed the opposite pattern. Importantly, the influence of intro-/extraversion on gaze-cueing was not mediated by trait anxiety. These findings demonstrated that personality differences can shape processing of interactions between relevant social signals.
on PloS one
by Conson M, Mazzarella E, Frolli A, Esposito D, Marino N, Trojano L, Massagli A, Gison G, Aprea N, Grossi D
Asperger syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental condition within the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) characterized by specific difficulties in social interaction, communication and behavioural control. In recent years, it has been suggested that ASD is related to a dysfunction of action simulation processes, but studies employing imitation or action observation tasks provided mixed results. Here, we addressed action simulation processes in adolescents with AS by means of a motor imagery task, the classical hand laterality task (to decide whether a rotated hand image is left or right); mental rotation of letters was also evaluated. As a specific marker of action simulation in hand rotation, we assessed the so-called biomechanical effect, that is the advantage for judging hand pictures showing physically comfortable versus physically awkward positions. We found the biomechanical effect in typically-developing participants but not in participants with AS. Overall performance on both hand laterality and letter rotation tasks, instead, did not differ in the two groups. These findings demonstrated a specific alteration of motor imagery skills in AS. We suggest that impaired mental simulation and imitation of goal-less movements in ASD could be related to shared cognitive mechanisms.
on Frontiers in psychology
by Conson M, Ponari M, Monteforte E, Ricciato G, Sarà M, Grossi D, Trojano L
Can reading others' emotional states be shaped by expertise? We assessed processing of emotional facial expressions in professional actors trained either to voluntary activate mimicry to reproduce character's emotions (as foreseen by the "Mimic Method"), or to infer others' inner states from reading the emotional context (as foreseen by "Stanislavski Method"). In explicit recognition of facial expressions (Experiment 1), the two experimental groups differed from each other and from a control group with no acting experience: the Mimic group was more accurate, whereas the Stanislavski group was slower. Neither acting experience, instead, influenced implicit processing of emotional faces (Experiment 2). We argue that expertise can selectively influence explicit recognition of others' facial expressions, depending on the kind of "emotional expertise".
on Experimental brain research
by Sagliano L, D'Olimpio F, Conson M, Cappuccio A, Grossi D, Trojano L
Closing-in (CI) is the tendency to act very close to the model in tasks such as drawing, 3D construction, gesture imitation, or writing. Closing-in is observed in degenerative and focal brain diseases, but also in normally developing children. In the present paper, three experiments were conducted to evaluate whether CI can be triggered during a copying task in normal young adults by increasing stimulus complexity and attentional load. Participants were required to copy complex lines in one of three conditions: without interfering activities (baseline), during counting, or during execution of a 2-back short-term memory task. In Experiment 1, participants were required to reproduce horizontally aligned stimuli, starting from a dot placed below each stimulus and proceeding from left to right; in Experiment 2, stimuli were again horizontally aligned, but the starting dot was placed above each stimulus, and writing proceeded from right to left; in Experiment 3, stimuli were aligned vertically and copying proceeded in upward direction. Results from all experiments showed that when normal young adults are engaged in an attentional-demanding concurrent activity, they tend to approach to the model, whereas the effect of stimulus complexity disappeared with unusual writing direction (Experiments 2 and 3). These findings demonstrate that even in normal young adults, a reduction in available attentional resources can release an attraction toward the model.