Factors modulating prospective memory performance in young and old individuals
Tuesday 12 October 2021

Title: Factors modulating prospective memory performance in young and old individuals

Project type: Internship / Thesis

Relatore: Sara Assecondi

 

Description: Several cognitive functions reach peak performance at different times of the day. These so-called time-of-day effects affect prospective memory, i.e. the memory of intentions of carrying out actions in the future. Perspective memory, like memory in general, decays with age. In this project we are interested in evaluating time-of-day effects in young and elderly adults and understanding the role played by working memory and inhibition in modulating performance in tasks that require the use of prospective memory.

 

Student role:  task programming, data collection (online) and management, statistical analysis 

References: Barner C, Schmid SR, Diekelmann S. Time-of-day effects on prospective memory. Behav Brain Res. 2019 Dec 30;376:112179. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112179.  

Electrophysiological markers of motivation, as predictors of working memory.
Tuesday 12 October 2021

Title: Electrophysiological markers of motivation, as predictors of working memory.

Project type: Thesis

Relatore: Sara Assecondi

Co-relatore: Bernardo Villa-Sánchez

 

Description: In recent years, a large number of researchers have studied the effect of non-invasive electrical stimulation (NIBS) to increase working memory capacity. However, to date it is not clear what role the use of efficient strategies for carrying out the cognitive task has in the modulation of working memory through electrical stimulation. This project aims to evaluate whether transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) specifically affects working memory capacity and / or strategic attitudes in young and elderly participants during a working memory task.

 

Student role:  subject recruitment, data collection and management, statistical analysis 

References: Assecondi, S. (2021). Impact of tDCS on working memory training is enhanced by strategy instructions in individuals with low working memory capacity. Scientific Reports, 11. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84298-3 

Neural correlates of cognitive training, combined with tDCS, in the young and in the elderly
Tuesday 12 October 2021

Title: Neural correlates of cognitive training, combined with tDCS, in the young and the elderly

Project type: Internship

Relatore: Sara Assecondi

Co-relatore: Bernardo Villa-Sánchez

 

Description: Description: working memory is a part of the memory capable of maintaining and manipulating information, and is a fundamental component for carrying out daily life activities. However, this type of memory is subject to decay with age. Our project aims to study any changes in brain electrical activity, in response to cognitive training and electrical stimulation, in healthy elderly and young subjects. In particular, the use of stimulation techniques (transcranial direct current stimulation - tDCS) to enhance the effect of training and advanced electrophysiology methods (electroencephalography - EEG) will be explored to obtain a complete picture of changes in brain activity (biomarkers) due to training with or without electrical stimulation. 


 

Student role:  subject recruitment, data collection and management, statistical analysis 

References: N-back training and transfer effects revealed by behavioral responses and EEG. Brain and Behavior, 8(11), e01136. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1136.  Hoy, K. E., Emonson, M. R., Arnold, S. L., Thomson, R. H., Daskalakis, Z. J., & Fitzgerald, P. B. (2013). Testing the limits: Investigating the effect of tDCS dose on working memory enhancement in healthy controls. Neuropsychologia, 51(9), 1777–1784. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.05.018

Electrophysiological markers of motivation, as predictors of working memory.
Tuesday 12 October 2021

Title: Electrophysiological markers of motivation, as predictors of working memory.

Project type: Thesis

Relatore: Sara Assecondi

Co-relatore: Bernardo Villa-Sánchez

 

Description: It is known that some psychological factors, such as motivation, influence learning. With this project, we aim to explore the potential differences in EEG at rest (biomarkers) considering the different levels of motivation (high and low) of a group of participants who underwent working memory training. Furthermore, we want to verify if specific electrophysiological characteristics can predict an improvement in working memory, and if this predictive power is modulated by the level of motivation. All the data needed to develop this project is already available.

 

Student role:  data management, statistical analysis 

A self-administered online cognitive screening: a feasibility study
Thursday 07 October 2021

Title:  Feasibility of self-administered online cognitive screening

Project type: Thesis

Relatore: Sara Assecondi

 

Description: Neuropsychological screenings usually require in person administration by qualified personnel. The time available to the clinician, the inability to reach a large population and the variability in the administration and scoring of screening tests, are factors limiting the widespread dissemination of campaigns for the early detection of cognitive pathologies. We have adapted  SATURN, a test designed for self-administration and automatic scoring, and validated on economic tablets, for use via online platforms. This project aims to establish the feasibility of self-administration via a web platform, by comparing the quality of the data collected and those from the published validation. All data needed to undertake this project are already available.

 

Student role:  data management, statistical analysis 

References: Bissig, D., Kaye, J., and Erten-Lyons, D. (2020). Validation of SATURN, a free, electronic, self-administered cognitive screening test. Alzheimers Dement (N Y) 6, e12116. doi:10.1002/trc2.12116.

The interaction of different levels of blood pressure on cognitive changes in healthy elderly participants
Thursday 30 September 2021

Title:  The interaction of different levels of blood pressure on cognitive changes in healthy elderly participants

Project type: Thesis

Relatore: Sara Assecondi

Co-relatore: Bernardo Villa-Sánchez

 

Description: Some studies have shown a positive correlation between heart conditions (for example, hypertension) and cognitive performance in patients with dementia or with cognitive impairment. However, we do not know whether this correlation is also present in healthy elderly people, those who do not develop neurological disorder. It is of our interest to investigate whether the increase on several parameters related to cardiac activity (i.e., blood pressure) over the years in healthy elderly subjects could be correlated with a decrease in cognitive performance. In particular, we had access to an international data base to evaluate this relationship by considering different ad hoc subgroups based on their blood pressure level and other components related to cardiac activity. All the data necessary to develop the project are already available.

 

Student role:  data management, statistical analysis 

References: