Luigi Trojano

Professor of Neuropsychology

Name Luigi
Surname Trojano
Institution Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
Address Department of Psychology, University of Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Viale Ellittico 31, 81100 Caserta, Italy


  • Pathological gambling in Parkinson's disease. A comprehensive review.

    Publication Date: 01/07/2013 on Parkinsonism & related disorders
    by Santangelo G, Barone P, Trojano L, Vitale C
    DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2013.02.007

    Pathological gambling (PG) and other Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs), such as hypersexuality, compulsive eating and buying, are often reported in Parkinson's disease (PD). The prevalence of PG is 2.2%-7% in treated PD patients, which is higher than the background population rate. As other non motor symptoms in PD, PG is frequently under-reported by patients and caregivers and may be under-recognized by the treating physicians. Factors associated with PG include male sex, younger age or younger age at PD onset, personal or family history of substance abuse or ICD, a personality profile characterized by impulsiveness, and treatment with dopamine agonists (DA) more than with levodopa (l-dopa). The DA effect seems to be a class effect and not specific for any DA. Neurofunctional studies suggest that medication-induced downregulation of frontostriatal connections and upregulation of striatum might combine to induce impulsive behavior. A dysfunction of fronto-subcortical circuits in PD patients with PG is also supported by neuropsychological findings of impaired executive control and monitoring abilities. Management of ICDs in PD is complex, and until now only discontinuation and/or tapering of DA treatment seem to be an effective management strategy for ICDs in PD. There is no empirical evidence supporting the use of psychiatric drugs for PG such as antipsychotics and antidepressants. Data regarding the effect of deep brain stimulation (DBS), particularly of subthalamic nucleus, on PG and ICDs in PD are still limited and sometimes conflicting since improvement of PG or new onset of PG after surgery have been reported.

  • Explicit recognition of emotional facial expressions is shaped by expertise: evidence from professional actors.

    Publication Date: 28/06/2013 on Frontiers in psychology
    by Conson M, Ponari M, Monteforte E, Ricciato G, Sarà M, Grossi D, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00382

    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".

  • Inducing closing-in phenomenon in healthy young adults: the effect of dual task and stimulus complexity on drawing performance.

    Publication Date: 01/03/2013 on Experimental brain research
    by Sagliano L, D'Olimpio F, Conson M, Cappuccio A, Grossi D, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.1007/s00221-012-3381-4

    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.

  • Cognitive and affective theory of mind in patients with essential tremor.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2013 on Journal of neurology
    by Santangelo G, Trojano L, Barone P, Errico D, Improta I, Agosti V, Grossi D, Sorrentino G, Vitale C
    DOI: 10.1007/s00415-012-6668-2

    The theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions different from one's own. The aim of the present study was to explore the neuropsychological correlates of cognitive and affective ToM in patients affected by essential tremor (ET). Thirty consecutive ET outpatients and 30 healthy age-, sex- and education-matched control subjects underwent tasks assessing short-term memory, verbal learning and executive functions, as well as tasks assessing "cognitive" and "affective" ToM; questionnaires evaluating behavioral disorders and quality of life were also administered. Although the two groups did not differ on demographic variables, ET patients scored worse on memory tasks, and showed more apathy and worse quality of life than controls. After covarying for mnestic, behavioral and quality of life scores, ET patients achieved significantly lower scores than controls on task assessing cognitive ToM, whereas no difference was found between the two groups on task assessing affective ToM. In ET, "Cognitive" ToM was significantly associated with frontal tasks, whereas "Affective" ToM was not correlated with cognitive, behavioral or quality of life scales. Our results indicate that cognitive aspects of ToM may be selectively impaired in ET. Possible underlying neural mechanisms of the deficits are discussed.

  • Neuropsychological profile of adult patients with nonsymptomatic occipital lobe epilepsies.

    Publication Date: 01/02/2013 on Journal of neurology
    by Bilo L, Santangelo G, Improta I, Vitale C, Meo R, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.1007/s00415-012-6650-z

    To explore the neuropsychological and neurobehavioral profile in adult patients affected by nonsymptomatic (cryptogenic and idiopathic) occipital lobe epilepsy (OLE), with normal intelligence, we enrolled 20 adult patients with nonsymptomatic OLE and 20 age-, sex-, and education-matched healthy subjects. All participants underwent neuropsychiatric assessment scales, and standardized neuropsychological tests tapping memory, executive functions, constructional, visuospatial and visuoperceptual skills. After Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, patients performed significantly worse than controls on several tests tapping complex visuospatial skills and frontal lobe functions. The analysis of single patients' performance revealed that a significantly higher number of OLE patients achieved age- and education-adjusted pathological scores on three tests (Benton Judgment of Line Orientation Test, Freehand Copying of Drawings Test, color-word interference task of Stroop test) with respect to controls. Patients did not differ from control subjects on neuropsychiatric aspects. The direct comparison between OLE subtypes showed that cryptogenetic OLE patients tended to achieve lower scores than idiopathic OLE patients on most tests, but no difference between the two groups was fully significant. In summary, patients with nonsymptomatic OLE can be affected by clinically relevant impairments in selected neuropsychological domains: complex visuospatial skills and executive functions. It could be speculated that frontal and visuospatial cognitive deficits might be the result of epileptic activity spreading within a neural network that includes structures far beyond the occipital lobe.

  • Predictors of recovery of responsiveness in prolonged anoxic vegetative state.

    Publication Date: 29/01/2013 on Neurology
    by Estraneo A, Moretta P, Loreto V, Lanzillo B, Cozzolino A, Saltalamacchia A, Lullo F, Santoro L, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31827f0f31

    The number of patients in prolonged postanoxic vegetative state (VS) is increasing. However, little information is available about prognostic markers of long-term outcome in patients who remain in VS more than 1 month postonset. The present 2-year prospective clinical study aimed to identify prognostic markers, recorded in the chronic phase, that might be useful for predicting recovery of responsiveness in a cohort of postanoxic VS patients.

  • Apathy in Parkinson's disease: diagnosis, neuropsychological correlates, pathophysiology and treatment.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2013 on Behavioural neurology
    by Santangelo G, Trojano L, Barone P, Errico D, Grossi D, Vitale C
    DOI: 10.3233/BEN-129025

    Apathy has been defined as lack of motivation. It has been traditionally considered as a symptom of psychiatric disorders, such as major depression and schizophrenia, but more recently it has been recognized as a specific neuropsychiatric syndrome associated with neurodegenerative such as Parkinson's disease (PD). As a consequence the reported prevalence of apathy in PD ranges from 13.9% to 70%; the mean prevalence is 35%. Prevalence of "pure apathy" (i.e., of apathy without comorbid depression and dementia) seems to be substantially lower, from 3 to 47.9%. High levels of apathy in PD are associated with decreased daily function, specific cognitive deficits and increased stress for families. Although neuroimaging studies do not provide a unique anatomic pattern, several data suggest that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the basal ganglia connected through frontal-subcortical circuits, are particularly involved in the genesis of apathy. At present, there are no approved medications for the treatment of apathy in and no proof of efficacy exists for any drug in current use. Further studies and innovative pharmacologic approaches are thus needed to ameliorate our understanding and treatment of apathy in PD.

  • Apathy and related executive syndromes in dementia associated with Parkinson's disease and in Alzheimer's disease.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2013 on Behavioural neurology
    by Grossi D, Santangelo G, Barbarulo AM, Vitale C, Castaldo G, Proto MG, Siano P, Barone P, Trojano L
    DOI: 10.3233/BEN-129023

    Apathy is defined as a lack of motivation and has been reported to be common in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). To explore the neuropsychological correlates of apathy in patients with PD related dementia (PDD) and AD and to identify the specific cognitive profile of apathy in the two forms of neurodegenerative disease, 61 non-depressed patients (29 PDD and 32 AD) were selected. Out of these, 29 patients (47.5%) were detected as apathetic (14 PDD-A+ and 15 AD-A+), and 32 patients as non-apathetic (15 PDD-A- and 17 AD-A-). All patients underwent cognitive tasks tapping memory, visuospatial and executive functions, behavioral rating scales and Clinical Judgment for Apathy Syndrome (CJ-AS), an inventory developed to measure severity of apathy. The four subgroups differed significantly on memory and frontal tasks. The PDD-A+ performed significantly worse than PDD-A- on frontal tasks. The AD-A+ had poorer performance than AD-A- on frontal tasks. Last, PDD-A+ achieved significantly higher scores than AD-A+ on memory tasks. The four groups differed significantly on CJ-AS and behavioral rating scales.The results showed that apathetic patients with both forms of dementia showed a common neuropsychological and behavioral picture, characterized by defects on frontal tasks, thus strongly supporting the existence of an 'apathetic syndrome', characterized by specific cognitive and psychological symptoms.

  • Compulsive drumming induced by dopamine agonists in Parkinson's disease: Another aspect of punding.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2013 on Behavioural neurology
    by Vitale C, Trojano L, Barone P, Errico D, Agosti V, Sorrentino G, Grossi D, Santangelo G
    DOI: 10.3233/BEN-129024

    We report the case of a man affected by Parkinson's disease who developed an unusual, severe, repetitive behavior characterized by an irrepressible need to drum and beat percussion instruments following to the introduction of pramipexole. This compulsive behavior was not associated to a pattern of chronic inappropriate overuse of dopaminergic medication or other psychiatric symptoms. Sharing many features with other repetitive behaviors, compulsive drumming might be considered a distinct manifestation of punding in Parkinson's disease.

  • Towards a deeper comprehension of relationships among cognitive, behavioral and psychiatric symptoms in Parkinson's disease.

    Publication Date: 01/01/2013 on Behavioural neurology
    by Trojano L, Santangelo G, Conson M, Grossi D
    DOI: 10.3233/BEN-129015