Presentation of research activities
The team led by Michela Bassolino works on sensory-motor bases and the plasticity of body representation. It is through our body that we perceive the world surrounding us and are able to take action. The body itself is an “object” of perception as we can perceive it and experience it directly. Our body is therefore a specific stimulus for the brain that is coded on different levels in several cortical structures. In order to code this level of complexity, aside from tactile sensations or muscular activation, we are putting forward the hypothesis that there are multiple mental representations of the body, with specific characteristics and functions. It is worth noting that body representations are not set but seem instead to construct, shape and update themselves through sensory-motor experiences and multisensory bodily stimuli. In addition, our perception and experience of the body aren’t truthful as they present distortions. What is the purpose and what are the functions of body representation? How are they shaped and updated? Why are they distorted? Such are some of the questions we strive to answer. Furthermore, we are interested in understanding body perception and experience in patients who suffer from sensory-motor disorders (mainly due to strokes, as well as multiple sclerosis and pain), and the impact this has on recovery. To tackle these subjects, we combine the use of behavioural and psychophysical methods with virtual reality and neurophysiology (for instance, transcranial magnetic stimulation, neuroimaging, etc.)
Ever since she started her studies, Prof. Michela Bassolino has been fascinated with the plasticity of body and space representations both in normal and pathological conditions. She studied neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience at the faculty of psychology of the University of Bologna (Italy, Prof. Elisabetta Làdavas). Then, after clinical training as a neuropsychologist in readaptation centres for patients suffering from cerebral lesions, she obtained her PhD in cognitive neurosciences at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT, Genoa), studying sensorimotor plasticity after immobilization of the lower limbs within a multidisciplinary department. After her doctorate, she stayed for an additional year and a half as postdoctoral student to explore the effects of sensorimotor privation on multisensory body representation (collaboration with Prof. Andrea Serino and grant funded by the Fondation Motrice, PI) In 2013, she moved to Switzerland to work at the EPFL’s neuroprosthesis centre (CNP), contributing to the opening of a new EPFL branch in Sion in cooperation with the French-speaking readaptation clinic (Clinique Romande de réadaptation SUVA-CRR). From 2016 to 2019, she was in charge of a project supported by the Ambizione grant of the National Science Foundation and hosted within the Blanke lab (EPFL), whose goal was to study the sensorimotor bases for body awareness and representations, combining transcranial magnetic stimulation, virtual reality and behavioural evaluations of healthy younger and older adult subjects as well as patients who have had a stroke. In September 2019, she joined the Institute of Health of the HES-SO Valais-Wallis. Lately, she has started working on a research project funded by the Fondation Mercier pour la Science studying body representation in elderly subjects. Prof. Bassolino also works in close and active collaboration with the CHUV’s MySpace laboratory (Prof. Andrea Serino).
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation restores upper limb sensory-motor functions and body representation in chronic stroke survivors
Crema A.*, Bassolino M.*, Guanziroli E.*, Colombo M., Blanke O., Serino A., Micera S., Molteni F., (2022)
MED, Cell Press. Volume 3, Pages 1-17.
Representation and perception of the body in space
Bassolino M., Serino A.
(2021) In: Della Sala, S. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 2. Elsevier, pp. 640–656.
How ageing shapes body and space representations: a comparison study between healthy young and elderly participants
Sorrentino G., Franza M., Zuber C., Blanke O., Serino A., Bassolino M., (2021)
Cortex 136, 56-76
Effect of tool-use observation on metric body representation and peripersonal space
Galigani M., Castellani N., Donno B., Franza M., Zuber C., Lara A., Garbarini F., Bassolino M., (2020)
Neuropsychologia 148, 10762
Hand perceptions induced by single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation over the primary motor cortex
Franza M., Sorrentino G., Vissani M., Serino A., Blanke 0., Bassolino M. (2019).
Brain stimulation, 12(3):693-701