Sara Assecondi

Corso Bettini, 31 - 38068 Rovereto
tel. 0464 808638
sara.assecondi[at]unitn [dot] it
Area CUN: Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche (11)
Settore scientifico disciplinare: PSICOBIOLOGIA E PSICOLOGIA FISIOLOGICA (M-PSI/02)

Formazione
  • Sep 2009     PhD in Ingegneria Biomedica, Ghent University, Belgio
  • Jun 2004      Esame di stato - Ingegneria Elettronica - Politecnico di Milano, Italia
  • Apr 2004      MSc in Ingegneria Biomedica, Politecnico di Milano, Italia
Carriera accademica ed attività didattica

Professional position

  • 09/20 – today     University of Trento, IT
    Assistant Professor (Ricercatore tipoA), CiMeC
    Strategies to improve cognition in the elderly
  • 04/16 – 07/20    University of Birmingham, UK
    Research fellow, School of Psychology
    Combined cognitive intervention and brain stimulation: memory improvement and its impact on quality of life in the elderly. Supervisor: Prof. Kimron Shapiro
  • 10/15 – 04/16    University of Birmingham, UK
    Research fellow (part-time), School of Psychology
    Supervisor: Prof. Kimron Shapiro, Prof. Jane Raymond
  • 01/14 – 10/15    Career break, parental caring responsibilities
  • 11/11-12/13       University of Birmingham, UK
    Research fellow, School of Psychology
    Development and experimental validation of an information theoretic approach to the multimodal integration of human EEG and fMRI data. Supervisor: Dr Andrew P. Bagshaw
  • 11/09-10/11       University of Trento, Italy
    Research fellow, Center for Mind and Brain Sciences (CIMeC)
    Development and optimization of EEG acquisition and analysis methods in simultaneous recordings with functional MRI at high static fields. Supervisor: Dr Jorge Jovicich
  • 01/05-09/09       Ghent University, Belgium
    PhD student, Department of Electronics and Information Systems (MEDISiP)
    Automated subject-specific peak identification and ballistocardiographic artifact correction in EEG-fMRI. Supervisors: Prof. S. Staelens, Prof. P. Boon

Teaching activity

  • 2019 Transcranial current brain stimulation, Guest Lecture for Neuroethics, University of Birmingham
  • 2019 Introduction to EEG fMRI, Guest Lecture for Neuroscience Methods, University of Birmingham
  • 2018 Transcranial current brain stimulation, Guest Lecture for Neuroethics, University of Birmingham
  • 2018 Introduction to EEG fMRI, Guest Lecture for Neuroscience Methods, University of Birmingham
  • 2010 EEG and EEG-fMRI recording and analysis, Lecture (6h), University of Trento
  • 2009 EEG and ECG signal processing, Exercise (8h), Ghent University
  • 2008 EEG and ECG signal processing, Exercise (8h), Ghent University
  • 2007 EEG and ECG signal processing, Exercise (8h), Ghent University
Interessi di ricerca

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 netwroks, 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. I am an expert in multimodal approaches for understanding cognition in health and disease. I have a special interest in EEG and ERP signal processing and recordings, connectivity in EEG, ERP and fMRI, and the integration of different modalities for human brain mapping (EEG, TMS, fMRI).

Attività di ricerca

Scientific activity

Projects

Cognition and ageing: I am interested in how healthy ageing changes cognitive performance and I work on designing intervention that could slow down physiological cognitive decline. I work with healthy and clinical populations.

Representative publications:

  • S.Assecondi, R. Hu, G. Eskes, K. Shapiro. The benefit of combining tDCS and working memory training in individuals with low capacity: a feasibility study in the elderly. In preparation.
  • S.Assecondi, R. Hu, G. Eskes, X. Pan, J. Zhou, K. Shapiro. Impact of tDCS on working memory training is enhanced by strategy instructions in individuals with low working memory capacity (2021). Scientific Reports 11, 5531. 11, 5531 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84298-3 (IF = 3.998). 
  • S. Assecondi, G. Eskes, C. Griffith, M. Read, K. Shapiro. BRAINSTORMING: A rstudy protocol for a randomized double-blind clinical trial to assess the impact of concurrent brain stimulation (tDCS)and working memory trainING on cognitive performance in acquired brain injury (ABI) (2020).  BMC Psychology 26;8(1):125 (IF = 2.170).
  • C F. Tagliabue, S. Assecondi, G. Cristoforetti, V. Mazza. Working memory practice enhances object individuation and memorization in the elderly (2020). Scientific Reports 10, 19957 (IF = 3.998).

Cognitive neuroscience: I have participated in projects, providing technical expertise in EEG and behavioural data analysis.

Representative publications:

  • D. Lindh, I. Sligte, S. Assecondi, K. Shapiro, I. Charest. Conscious access to visual information is supported by specific image features (2019). Nature Communications 10, 4106 (IF = 11.880).
  • J.F. Oldenburg, C. Roger, S. Assecondi, F. Verbruggen, W. Fias. Repetition priming in the stop signal task: The electrophysiology of sequential effects of stopping (2012). Neuropsychologia, Vol. 50(12) 2860-8, (IF = 2.888).

Modelling: I have used simulations and models of brain activity to test hypothesis or new analysis approaches in neuroscience.

Representative publications:

  • D. T. Rollings, S. Assecondi, D. Ostwald, C. Porcaro, D. McCorry, M. Bagary, I. Soryal, A. P. Bagshaw. Early haemodynamic changes observed in patients with epilepsy, in a visual experiment and in simulations (2016). Clinical Neurophysiology, 127, 245-253 (IF = 3.614).
  • S. Assecondi, D. Ostwald, A. P. Bagshaw. Reliability of information-based integration of EEG and fMRI data: a simulation study (2015). Neural Computation, Vol. 27 281–305 (IF = 1.651).

Data quality: over the years I have worked to improve quality of biomedical data, in particular when two different measuring techniques are combined

Representative publications:

  • S. Assecondi, C. Lavallee, P. Ferrari, J. Jovicich. Length matters: Improved high field EEG–fMRI recordings using shorter EEG cables (2016). Journal of neuroscience methods 269, 74-87 (IF = 2.668).
  • S. Assecondi, K. Vanderperren, N. Novitskiy, J. Ramautar, W. Fias, S. Staelens, P. Stiers, S. Sunaert, S. Van Huffel, I. Lemahieu (2010). Effect of the static magnetic field of the MR-scanner on ERPs: evaluation of visual, cognitive and motor potentials. Clinical Neurophysiology Vol. 121(5) 672-685 (IF = 3.614).
  • K. Vanderperren, M. De Vos, J. Ramautar, N. Novitskiy, S. Assecondi, B. Vanrumste, P. Stiers, B. Van den Bergh, J. Wagemans, L. Lagae, S. Sunaert, S. Van Huffel (2010). Removal of BCG artifacts from EEG recordings inside the MR scanner: a comparison of methodological and validation-related aspects. NeuroImage, Vol. 50(3) 920-934 (IF = 5.426).
  • S. Assecondi, A.M. Bianchi, H. Hallez, S. Staelens, S. Casarotto, I. Lemahieu, G.A. Chiarenza (2009). Automated identification of ERP peaks through Dynamic Time Warping: an application to developmental dyslexia. Clinical Neurophysiology, Vol. 120(10) 1819-1827 (IF = 3.614).
  • H. Hallez, M. DeVos, B. Vanrumste, P. Van Hese, S. Assecondi, K. Van Laere, P. Dupont, W. Van Paesschen, S. Van Huffel, I. Lemahieu (2009). Removing muscle and eye artifacts using blind source separation techniques in ictal EEG source imaging. Clinical Neurophysiology, Vol. 120(7) 1262-72 (IF = 3.614).
  • S. Assecondi, H. Hallez,S. Staelens, A.M. Bianchi, G. Huiskamp, I. Lemahieu (2009). Removal of the ballistocardiographic artifact from EEG-fMRI data: a canonical correlation approach. Physics in Medicine and Biology, Vol. 54 (2) 1673-1689 (IF = 2.665).

Supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students

  • 2 PhD student in co-supervision;
  • 14 MSc thesis supervision;
  • 5 internships;
  • 12 undergrads final projects.

Grants

  • 2019, Canadian International Seed Funds (VPRIIS), Co-I (£5,900)
  • 2017, project grant - MRC Proximity to Discovery, Co-I (£8100)

Reviewer’s activity

Abstracts reviewer: XII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing (MEDICON) (2010); 10th IEEE International Conference on Information Technology and Applications in Biomedicine (2010); Organization for Human Brain Mapping Annual Meeting (HBM) (2011)

Referee for scientific journals: Physiological Measurements, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Brain Topography, Scientific Reports, Physics in Medicine and Biology, NeuroImage, Cortex, IEEE Transaction in Biomedical Engineering, International Journal of Psychophysiology, Journal of Neural Engineering, Behavioural Research Methods, Entropy, Human-Computer Interaction, PLOSone

Referee for funding bodies: Research Foundation - Flanders

Premi e riconoscimenti

Awards 

  • 2018, travel grant - Guarantors of Brain (£1000)
  • 2013, travel grant - Guarantors of Brain (£500)
  • 2013, travel grant - College Post-Doc Career Development Competition (£500)
  • 2008, Poster Price, Liege Image Days, Liege, Belgium (E100)
Convegni e conferenze

Conference / symposium organization

  • 2018, ERP Bootcamp 4.0, University of Birmingham, UK: In-loco co-organizer
  • 2018, Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Workshop, University of Birmingham, UK: In-loco co-organizer
  • 2017, Brain Neuroscience Association: Festival of Neuroscience, UK, 2017: organizer of the booth of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences
  • 2016, ERP Bootcamp 3.0, University of Birmingham, UK: In-loco co-organizer
  • 2013, ERP Bootcamp 2.0, University of Birmingham, UK: in-loco co-organizer
  • 2012, ERP Bootcamp 1.0, University of Birmingham, UK: in-loco co-organizer 
  • 2010, Brain Vision Analyzer 2 Workshop on EEG/fMRI, University of Trento, Italy: In-loco organizer

Proceedings in international and national conferences

  1. S. Assecondi, R. Hu, K. Shapiro (2019) The impact of strategy on the efficacy of cognitive training combined with brain stimulation. RAW, Rovereto, Italy
  2. C.F. Tagliabue, S. Assecondi, V. Mazza (2019) Working memory practice enhances object individuation and memorization in the elderly. European Conference on Visual Perception, Leuven, Belgium
  3. S. Assecondi, R. Hu, G. Eskes, J. Kroeker, K. Shapiro (2018) The benefits of combined brain stimulation and cognitive training: a pilot study in the elderly. TBS CNW, Rovereto, Italy.
  4. S. Assecondi, K. Shapiro (2018) The benefits of combined brain stimulation and cognitive training: a pilot study. VSS Annual Meeting, Journal of Vision 18 (10), 119
  5. D. Lindh, S. Assecondi, I. Sligte, K. Shapiro, I. Charest (2017) Using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks to predict image-specific behavioural dynamics in the conscious access to visual objects. 13th International Conference of Cognitive Neuroscience, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  6. D. Lindh, S. Assecondi, I. Sligte, K. Shapiro, I. Charest (2017) Categorical differences in the conscious access to visual objects. VSS Annual Meeting, Journal of Vision 17 (10), 964-964
  7. I. Charest, D. Lindh, S. Assecondi, M. Treder (2017) Revealing the temporal dynamics of individually unique object representations. VSS Annual Meeting, Journal of Vision 17 (10), 1343-1343          
  8. S. Assecondi, D. Ostwald, A. P. Bagshaw (2013). Characterization of information coding in simulated EEG-fMRI datasets. International conference on Basic and Clinical multimodal Imaging (BaCI).
  9. R. Wilson, S. D. Mayhew, S. Assecondi, T. N. Arvanitis, A. P. Bagshaw (2013). The Effect of Epoch Length on Functional Connectivity within the Default Mode Network. International conference on Basic and Clinical multimodal Imaging (BaCI).
  10. P. Ferrari, S. Assecondi, J. Jovicich (2013). A new methodological approach to improve safety, quality and reproducibility during concurrent EEG/fMRI: a feasibility study. VIII Congresso nazionale - Associazione Italiana di Fisica Medica, Turin, Italy.
  11. S. Assecondi, P. Ferrari, J. Jovicich (2013). A compact setup to improve the quality of EEG data recorded during fMRI. VIII Congresso nazionale - Associazione Italiana di Fisica Medica, Turin, Italy.
  12. Z. Zakeri, S. Assecondi, A.P. Bagshaw, T.N. Arvanitis (2013) Influence of signal preprocessing on ICA-based EEG decomposition Proceeding of the XIII Mediterrenean Conference of Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing, Sevilla Spain.
  13. R. Wilson, S.D. Mayhew, S. Assecondi, T.N. Arvanitis, A.P. Bagshaw (2013). Functional Connectivity within the Default Mode Network: The Effect of Epoch Length Proceeding of the 19th Annual Meeting of the OHBM, Seattle, USA.
  14. S. Assecondi, N. Shalev, S.D. Mayhew, C. Mevorach, A.P. Bagshaw (2013). Data Quality of Concurrent EEG-TMS in a Faces-Scenes Discrimination Task Proceeding of the 19th Annual Meeting of the OHBM, Seattle, USA.
  15. S. Assecondi, D. Ostwald, A.P. Bagshaw (2013). Reliability of Information-based Integration of EEG and fMRI Data: A Simulation Study Proceeding of the 19th Annual Meeting of the OHBM, Seattle, USA.
  16. S. Assecondi, P. Ferrari, J. Jovicich (2013). Optimization of a compact setup to improve the quality of EEG data recorded during fMRI Proceeding of the 20th Annual Meeting of the ISMRM, Salt Lake City, USA.
  17. S. Assecondi, A.M. Bianchi, P. Ferrari, V. Mazza, J. Schwarzbach, J. Jovicich (2010). Optimization of BCG artifact removal for single-trial EEG-fMRI recordings at 4 T Proceedings of the IVth   European Conference of Medical Physics, Udine, Italy.
  18. S. Assecondi, A.M. Bianchi, M. Buiatti, P. Ferrari, V. Mazza, J. Schwarzbach, J. Jovicich (2010).  A nonlinear template-based approach for BCG artifact removal in EEG-fMRI recordings at high fields Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, Barcelona, Spain.
  19. S. Assecondi, M. Buiatti, P. Ferrari, V. Mazza, J. Schwarzbach, J. Jovicich (2010).  Ballistocardiographic artifact removal from simultaneous EEG-fMRI recordings at 4 T ISMRM Italian Chapter, Milan, Italy.
  20. G. Huiskamp, S. Assecondi (2009). EEG-correlated fMRI in epilepsy Proceedings of the Neuromath Workshop, Leuven, Belgium.
  21. P. van Mierlo, H. Hallez, S. Assecondi, S. Staelens, E. Carrette, I. Lemahieu, P. Boon (2009). Feasibility study of the time-variant functional connectivity pattern during an epileptic seizure Proceedings of the 7th NFSI and ICBEM Conference, Rome.
  22. J. Oldenburg, F. Verbruggen, S. Assecondi, W. Fias (2009).The locus of interference in primed inhibition: an ERP study Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco, USA.
  23. T. Franchin, A.M. Bianchi, V. Cannatà, E. Genovese, F. Nocchi, S. Assecondi, S. Cerutti (2008). A robust independent component analysis algorithm for removing ballistocardiogram artifacts from EEG and fMRI recordings Proceedings of the 4th European Conference of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering.
  24. P. van Mierlo, S. Assecondi, S. Staelens, P. Boon, I. Lemahieu (2008). Changes in connectivity patterns in the kainate model of epilepsy Proceedings of the 4th European Conference of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering.
  25. S. Assecondi, H. Hallez, P. Van Hese, A.M. Bianchi, S. Staelens, P. Boon, I. Lemahieu (2008). Blind source separation to remove BCG artifact from EEG/fMRI data Proceedings of Lige Image Days 2008: Medical Imaging.
  26. S. Assecondi, P. Van Hese, H. Hallez, Y. D'Asseler, I. Lemahieu, A.M. Bianchi, P. Boon (2008). Ballistocardiographic artifact removal from simultaneous EEG/FMRI recording by means of canonical correlation analysis. Proceedings of the International Conference on Bio-inspired systems and signal processing, BIOSIGNALS.
  27. S. Assecondi (2008). Removal of ballistocardiographic artefact from EEG-fMRI data: a canonical correlation approach. 9e UGent-FirW doctoraatssymposium.
  28. H. Hallez, B. Vanrumste, S. Delputte, P. Van Hese, S. Assecondi, Y. D'Asseler, I. Lemahieu (2007). Dipole estimation errors in EEG source localization due to not incorporating anisotropic conductivities of white matter in realistic head models. Proceedings of 2007 joint meeting of the 6th International Symposium on Noninvasive Functional Source Imaging of the Brain and Heart and the International Conference on Functional Biomedical Imaging.
  29. S. Assecondi, H. Hallez, Y. D'Asseler, I. Lemahieu (2007). Comparison of different auto-solid angle approximations in BEM for EEG dipole source localization. Proceedings of the joint meeting of the 6th International Symposium on Noninvasive Functional Source Imaging of the Brain and Heart and the International Conference on Functional Biomedical Imaging.
  30. Y. De Deene, S. Baete, E. Fieremans, S. Delputte, B. Ozkalayci, S. Assecondi, V. Keereman, M. Ozdemir, S. Vandenberghe (2007).  MR Engineering Research at Ghent University. Abstract book first Benelux in vivo MR methods symposium.
  31. S. Assecondi, S. Casarotto, A.M. Bianchi, G.A. Chiarenza, Y. D'Asseler, I. Lemahieu (2006). Automatic measurement of reading related potentials in dyslexia. Proceedings of the IEEE/EMBS Benelux symposium, Belgian Day on Biomedical Engineering.
  32. S. Assecondi (2006). Co-recording of EEG and fMRI data: EEG artifact removal. Abstracts 7eUGent-FirW doctoraatssymposium.
  33. A.M. Bianchi, S. Assecondi, S. Casarotto, G.A. Chiarenza (2006). Computation of templates for reading related potentials by means of wavelet decomposition and dynamic time warping. Journal of Psychophysiology, Abstracts of the XII Congress of the Italian Society of Psychophysiology, SIPF. Vol. 20(3).
  34. A.M. Bianchi, S. Assecondi, S. Casarotto, G.A. Chiarenza, S. Cerutti (2004). Multiresolution analysis of reading related potentials to calculate activation maps in dyslexia. Proceedings of X Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering.
  35. S. Assecondi, A.M. Bianchi, S. Casarotto, S. Cerutti, G.A. Chiarenza (2004). Analysis of reading-related potentials by combining wavelet decomposition and dynamic time warping. International Journal of Psychophysiology. Vol. 54.
Altre attività

Inventions

I am named inventor on a patent application (108165P.GBA) jointly submitted by University of Birmingham and Dalhousie University.

Public engagement

  • 2019, Agewell: Meet the researcher, Birmingham UK
  • 2019, Invited talk: University of the third age (U3A): Scientific branch, Birmingham UK
  • 2018, Dreamboat, IKON Gallery, Birmingham UK
  • 2018, Agewell: Meet the researcher, Birmingham UK
  • 2017, Invited talk: Secondary School, Birmingham, UK
  • 2017, Birmingham Neuroscience Association, Outreach Booth, Birmingham, UK
  • 2017, Good kids can spit, Library of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  • 2017, Community Day, Birmingham, UK
  • 2017, Brain Awareness Week at the Think Tank Science Museum, Birmingham, UK
  • 2013, Community Day, Birmingham, UK   
  • 2012, Brain Awareness, Week, Birmingham, UK
  • 2011, Researcher’s Night, Trento, Italy         
Allegati