Sara Assecondi

Sara Assecondi
Università degli Studi di Trento | UNITN · CIMEC - Center for Mind/Brain Sciences

MSc, PhD in Biomedical Engineering

About

38
Publications
2,595
Reads
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225
Citations
Introduction
I am interested in memory and how memory performance as we study it in the lab, transfers to everyday life. In the labs, I use a range of state-of-the-art techniques to assess cognitive decline and its impact on everyday life by incorporating naturalistic scenarios in more traditional lab testing procedures. I use electroencephalography to quantify brain activity during memory tests and to understand how behavioural interventions can manipulate brain networks, and I use virtual reality to recreate real-life situations that are affected by memory decline. At the same time, I am working on interventions that can improve or slow down memory decline, and I do so by combining brain stimulation and brain training exercises.
Additional affiliations
April 2016 - present
University of Birmingham
Position
  • Research Associate
Description
  • Project: Combined cognitive intervention and brain stimulation: memory improvement and its impact on quality of life in the elderly.
October 2015 - March 2016
University of Birmingham
Position
  • Fellow
Description
  • Project: Conscious access to visual information.
January 2014 - September 2015
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Position
  • Maternity leave - fulltime childcare
Education
January 2005 - July 2009
Ghent University
Field of study
  • Biomedical Engineering
September 1996 - April 2004
Politecnico di Milano
Field of study
  • Biomedical Engineering

Publications

Publications (38)
Article
Full-text available
Our brains are often under pressure to process a continuous flow of information in a short time, therefore facing a constantly increasing demand for cognitive resources. Recent studies have highlighted that a lasting improvement of cognitive functions may be achieved by exploiting plasticity, i.e., the brain’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing...
Article
Full-text available
The neural activity of human brain changes in healthy individuals during aging. The most frequent variation in patterns of neural activity are a shift from posterior to anterior areas and a reduced asymmetry between hemispheres. These patterns are typically observed during task execution and by using functional magnetic resonance imaging data. In t...
Article
Learning results from online (within-session) and offline (between-sessions) changes. Heterogeneity of age-related effects in learning may be ascribed to aging differentially affecting these two processes. We investigated the contribution of online and offline consolidation in visuo-spatial working memory (vWM). Younger and older participants perfo...
Article
Full-text available
Interventions to improve working memory, e.g. by combining task rehearsal and non-invasive brain stimulation, are gaining popularity. Many factors, however, affect the outcome of these interventions. We hypothesize that working memory capacity at baseline predicts how an individual performs on a working memory task, by setting limits on the benefit...
Article
Full-text available
Following publication of the original article [1], the authors flagged that the article had published with the Acknowledgements erroneously excluded from the declarations at the end of the article.
Article
Full-text available
Background Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) admissions have an incidence of 385 per 100,000 of the population in the UK, and as brain injury often involves the frontal networks, cognitive domains affected are likely to be executive control, working memory, and problem-solving deficits, resulting in difficulty with everyday activities. The above observat...
Article
Full-text available
A decline in visuospatial Working Memory (vWM) is a hallmark of cognitive aging across various tasks, and facing this decline has become the target of several studies. In the current study we tested whether older adults can benefit from task repetition in order to improve their performance in a vWM task. While learning by task repetition has been s...
Article
Full-text available
Conscious perception is crucial for adaptive behaviour yet access to consciousness varies for different types of objects. The visual system comprises regions with widely distributed category information and exemplar-level representations that cluster according to category. Does this categorical organisation in the brain provide insight into object-...
Preprint
Full-text available
Conscious perception is crucial for adaptive behaviour yet access to consciousness varies for different types of objects. The visual system comprises regions with widely distributed category information and exemplar-level representations that cluster according to category. Does this categorical organisation in the brain provide insight into object-...
Article
Background: The use of concurrent EEG-fMRI recordings has increased in recent years, allowing new avenues of medical and cognitive neuroscience research; however, currently used setups present problems with data quality and reproducibility. New method: We propose a compact experimental setup for concurrent EEG-fMRI at 4T and compare it to a more...
Article
The objective of this study was to investigate whether previously reported early blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) changes in epilepsy could occur as a result of the modelling techniques rather than physiological changes. EEG-fMRI data were analysed from seven patients with focal epilepsy, six control subjects undergoing a visual experiment, in a...
Article
Most studies involving simultaneous electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data rely on the first-order, affine-linear correlation of EEG and fMRI features within the framework of the general linear model. An alternative is the use of information-based measures such as mutual information and entropy, which ca...
Chapter
Full-text available
Independent Component Analysis (ICA) has been widely used for analysis of EEG data and separating brain and non-brain sources from the EEG mixture. In this study, we compared decomposition results of the most commonly applied ICA algorithms: AMICA, Extended-Infomax, Infomax and FastICA. We examined 12 conditions of EEG data pre-processing, and asse...
Article
This work investigates the influence of the static magnetic field of the MR-scanner on ERPs extracted from simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings. The quality of the ERPs after BallistoCardioGraphic (BCG) artifact removal, as well as the reproducibility of the waveforms in different environments is investigated. We consider a Detection, a Go-Nogo and a M...
Article
Multimodal approaches are of growing interest in the study of neural processes. To this end much attention has been paid to the integration of electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data because of their complementary properties. However, the simultaneous acquisition of both types of data causes serious artif...
Article
This article proposes a method to automatically identify and label event-related potential (ERP) components with high accuracy and precision. We present a framework, referred to as peak-picking Dynamic Time Warping (ppDTW), where a priori knowledge about the ERPs under investigation is used to define a reference signal. We developed a combination o...
Article
The contamination of muscle and eye artifacts during an ictal period of the EEG significantly distorts source estimation algorithms. Recent blind source separation (BSS) techniques based on canonical correlation (BSS-CCA) and independent component analysis with spatial constraints (SCICA) have shown much promise in the removal of these artifacts. I...
Article
Full-text available
The simultaneous recording of electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can give new insights into how the brain functions. However, the strong electromagnetic field of the MR scanner generates artifacts that obscure the EEG and diminish its readability. Among them, the ballistocardiographic artifact (BCGa) that ap...
Article
Full-text available
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by seizures, i.e. abnormal synchronous activity of neurons in the brain. Intracranial ElectroEncephaloGraphy (iEEG) is the recording of brain activity at a high temporal resolution through electrodes placed within different brain regions. Intracranial electrodes are used to access structures deep wi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) recordings provide complementary advantages with regard to the temporal and spatial resolution of brain activity. This methodology still now suffers from several artifacts, such as the gradient, the ballistocardiogram (BCG) and electro-oculogram (EOG). A numb...
Article
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by seizures, i.e. excessive and hyper synchronous activity of neurons in the brain. ElectroEncephaloGram (EEG) is the recording of brain activity in time through electrodes placed on the scalp and is one of the most used techniques to monitor brain activity. In order to identify pattern of propagati...
Conference Paper
The solution of the forward problem in electroencephalography requires the computation of the potential distribution on the surface of an isolated conductor, generated by a known source. In order to solve the problem in realistic head-shaped conductors, numerical methods must be used, such as boundary element method (BEM). In the BEM the surface of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a useful tool in the diagnosis of epilepsy. EEG source localization can provide neurologists with an estimation of the epileptogenic zone. Many EEG source localization approaches assume head models with isotropic conductivity, while in reality the conductivity of white matter is anisotropic. The conductivity along...
Article
Full-text available
The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a standard technique to record and study the brain activity with a high temporal resolution (ms). BOLD fMRI (Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a non-invasive imaging method that allows the lo- calization of activated brain regions with a high spatial resolution (mm). The co...
Article
Full-text available
The problem of the automatic measurement of amplitudes and latencies in reading related potentials (RRPs) is here addressed. Our approach based on the Dynamic Time Warping technique, shows promising results for the development of an automatic measuring procedure.
Article
The problem of obtaining a reference signal for reading related potentials (RRPs) during reading tasks is here addressed. The classical procedure based on the calculation of grand-averages on a group of subjects, is strongly affected by the high inter-subject variability, that becomes especially relevant when dealing with long-latency waves related...
Article
Full-text available
Thesis to obtain the academic degree of Burgerlijk ingenieur in de computerwetenschappen Promotors: prof. dr. Ignace Lemahieu, prof. dr. ir. Yves D'Asseler Supervisors: ir.

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
We investigate how combined non-invasive brain stimulation and cognitive training modulate working memory performance in the elderly. We are interested in how training - related changes transfer to untrained cognitive domains and whether these changes are modulated by brain stimulation.