At NeuroLab we make use of neuroimaging, genetic, behavioral and neuropsychological approaches to investigate the cognitive skills and neural mechanisms underlying the human ability to orient and navigate in the surrounding. We are interested in understanding the fundamental mechanisms related to spatial cognition throughout the life span (from early development to the elderly) and in the event of clinical conditions affecting the central nervous system. We have many projects that may interest you. Explore our website to find out more about our research!
------------------------Our most recent manuscript------------------------
DEVELOPMENTAL TOPOGRAPHICAL DISORIENTATION AND DECREASED HIPPOCAMPAL FUNCTIONAL CONNECTIVITY
Iaria, G, Arnold, A. E., Burles, F., Liu, I., Slone, E., Barclay, S., Bech-Hansen, T. N., Levy, R. M. (2014). Hippocampus, June 28. [Epub ahead of print].
Developmental Topographical Disorientation (DTD) is a newly discovered cognitive disorder in which individuals experience a lifelong history of getting lost in both novel and familiar surroundings. Recent studies have shown that such a selective orientation defect relies primarily on the inability of the individuals to form cognitive maps, i.e. mental representations of the surrounding that allow individuals to get anywhere from any location in the environment, although other orientation skills are additionally affected. To date, the neural correlates of this developmental condition are unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that DTD may be related to ineffective functional connectivity between the hippocampus (known to be critical for cognitive maps) and other brain regions critical for spatial orientation. A group of individuals with DTD and a group of control subjects underwent a resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI) scan. In addition, we performed Voxel Based Morphometry to investigate potential structural differences between individuals with DTD and controls. The results of the rsfMRI study revealed a decreased functional connectivity between the right hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in individuals with DTD. No structural differences were detected between groups. These findings provide evidence that ineffective functional connectivity between hippocampus and PFC may affect the monitoring and processing of spatial information while moving within an environment, resulting in the lifelong selective inability of individuals with DTD to form cognitive maps that are critical for orienting in both familiar and unfamiliar surroundings.
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