Il 16 Dicembte si terrà il workshop: Modelling human sensory-motor system: approaches and applications

Ecco il programma e il link di zoom per poter assistere a distanza:

December 16, 2021

Aula Magna “A. Pacinotti”,  Scuola di Ingegneria Pisa

15.00-15.20: Welcome and Introduction (Matteo Bianchi, Univerity of Pisa)

15.20-16.20: Synergic Control of the Hand (Mark L. Latash, Pennsylvania State University)

16.20-16.50: A common synergy-based code for hand movements (Emiliano Ricciardi, IMT Lucca)

16:50-17.20:  The role of slip motion for the control of reaching movements (Alessandro Moscatelli, University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS)

17.20-17.50: Multisensory development and rehabilitation devices based on haptic, visual, and audio signals (Monica Gori, Walter Setti, Claudio Campus, Italian Institute of Technology - IIT)

17:50-18:10: Round table: Discussions and Conclusions (Antonio Bicchi, University of Pisa and Italian Institute of Technology - IIT)




Prof. Mark L. Latash

TitleSynergic Control of the Hand

Abstract: The talk will review several recent series of studies of the hand/finger accurate force production based on the ideas of hierarchical control of movements with spatial referent coordinates and of performance-stabilizing synergies. Analysis of the firing frequencies of individual motor units in hand extrinsic muscles revealed groups of motor units corresponding to the reciprocal and coactivation commands. Accurate finger force production has been associated with force-stabilizing synergies in the space of reciprocal and coactivation commands estimated using both mechanical and electromyographic variables. Unintentional force drifts in the absence of visual feedback are caused by drifts of referent coordinates associated with loss of action stability. If only a subset of fingers is involved in the task, there is a slow increase in the index of force production by non-instructed fingers, enslaving, possibly due to spread of cortical excitation. Studies of patients with subcortical neurological disorders show two aspects of the impaired synergic control: Impaired stability (low synergy indices during steady-state tasks) and impaired agility (low indices of anticipatory synergy adjustments prior to fast actions). Taken together, these studies show that the theory of synergic control in spaces of referent coordinates offers a productive framework leading to non-trivial predictions and offering clinical implications.

BioMark Latash is a Distinguished Professor of Kinesiology and Director of the Motor Control Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University. He was trained in Physics, Physics of Living Systems, and Physiology. His research is focused on the control and coordination of human voluntary movements and movement disorders. He is the author of “Control of Human Movement” (1993), “The Neurophysiological Basis of Movement” (1998, 2008), “Synergy” (2008), “Fundamentals of Motor Control” (2012), “Biomechanics and Motor Control: Defining Central Concepts” (with Vladimir Zatsiorsky, 2016), and “Physics of Biological Action and Perception” (2019). In addition, he translated two books by Nikolai Bernstein (“On Dexterity and Its Development”, 1996 and “On the Construction of Movements”, 2020) edited ten books and published over 400 papers in refereed journals. Mark Latash served as the Founding Editor of the journal “Motor Control” (1996-2007) and as President of the International Society of Motor Control (2001-2005). He has served as Director of the annual Motor Control Summer School series since 2004. He is a recipient of the Bernstein Prize in motor control.


Prof. Emiliano Ricciardi

Title: A common synergy-based code for hand movements


Abstract: The spatial arrangement of the cortical networks devoted to action observation, execution and imagery and the features underlying the representation of actions across these tasks have been targeted by several previous studies. We recently showed that hand synergies – meaningful motor primitives which can be combined to describe a wide variety of postures – are encoded in the human motor areas during the execution of grasping movements. However, it is still unknown if imagery and observation of hand motor acts are similarly grounded on synergy-based representations, as some authors suggest, and whether the action observation network relies on the extraction of synergies for the understanding of others’ actions. For the first time, model-based encoding has been successfully applied to motor imagery and observation, revealing that synergies are represented in the brain also in those tasks. Synergies could be therefore considered as a common code for multiple tasks related to motor representation. Of note, only a small number of voxels encode synergies in more than one condition, suggesting that synergy-based representations of hand movements are segregated and do not coexist within the same regions for multiple tasks.

BioEmiliano Ricciardi is Full Professor in Psychobiology and Psychophysiology and Director of the Cognitive Computational and Social Neuroscience PhD track at IMT School. After receiving his MD at the University of Pisa and a PhD in Neurosciences at Scuola Superiore “Sant’Anna”, he acquired expertise on advanced tools in cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging to characterize the neural correlates of perception, knowledge organization and action representation.


Prof. Alessandro Moscatelli

Title: The role of slip motion for the control of reaching movements

Abstract: Hand reaching is a complex task that requires the integration of multiple sensory information from muscle, joints and the skin, and internal model of the motor command (Gardner and Johnson 2013). Whenever we touch a surface and we slide our fingertips on it, texture orientation and slip motion provide information about the path length (Moscatelli, Naceri, and Ernst 2014), and about the direction of the hand trajectory (Moscatelli, Bianchi et al. 2019). In an ongoing study, we use an innovative haptic device to physically decouple slip motion and hand movements during a reaching task (Ciotti, Ryan et al., 2021). Participants slid their index fingertip on the lubricated surface of the device towards a visual target projected on the screen. During each trial, the position of the contact plate was continuously updated with the hand position multiplied by a gain parameter. By changing the value of the gain across trials, it was possible to produce different combinations of slip motion and hand motion. We found systematic changes in the hand velocity profile and the motion path depending on slip motion stimuli. These results are consistent with our hypothesis of an integration of cutaneous and kinesthetic cues for the control of reaching movements.

Bio: M.D., Ph.D., he is tenure track researcher (RTDb) at Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and junior group leader at Department of Neuromotor Physiology, Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Rome, Italy. He is a board member of the EuroHaptics Society (2018–present). Alessandro Moscatelli received a Medical Doctor degree and a postgraduate master’s degree from the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, in 2006 and 2008 respectively, both cum laude. He received the PhD in Neuroscience from University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ in 2010, under supervision of Prof. F. Lacquaniti. From 2011 to 2015, he worked as Post Doc at the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and CITEC of the Bielefeld University, led by Prof. M.O. Ernst. His current research interests include the somatosensory system, vision, and motor control of the hand. Dr. Moscatelli has an excellent knowledge of statistical inference, with an expertise in Generalized Linear Mixed Models and Bayesian Models. He is the developer and maintainer of the R package MixedPsy for the estimate of psychophysical parameters in mixed model framework. He published more than 45 peer-reviewed papers in top neuroscience journals including Current Biology, Science Advances, Journal of Vision, Journal of Neurophysiology, etc.


Dr. Monica Gori

TitleMultisensory development and rehabilitation devices based on haptic, visual, and audio signals 

Abstract: In every interaction with the environment, our brain integrates sensory information from the outside. Recent studies have shown that multisensory integration improves estimation accuracy by fostering perception and interaction with the environment. However, this is not always true. For example, children and people with disabilities do not always benefit from sensory integration. For about 20 years, I have been studying the changes in multisensory integration skills over development to design new technologies that improve perception and interaction with the environment. In this presentation, I will give you an overview of the main results from recent studies investigating tactile and visual-tactile audio perception abilities in children and adults with and without visual disabilities. I will also show you how it is possible to develop new multisensory technologies that improve the inclusion of people with disabilities, such as applications with rehabilitation purposes for hospitals and clinical settings.

Bio: Monica Gori is the Principal Investigator of the Unit for Visually Impaired People (U-VIP) of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). Her lab is composed of 18 researchers (half psychologists and half engineers). Monica Gori is an experimental psychologist with a Ph.D. in Humanoid Technologies. She is an expert on development, multisensory integration, rehabilitation, and visual disability. The impact of her work on the scientific community can be summarized by 130 international papers, 5 book chapters, and many conferences abstracts. Internationally accepted indices of impact and productivity show that her work has received 2400 citations, leading me to an H-index of 25 (ORCID ID; Scopus Research ID: 23491803400;   ResearcherID: A-1238-2014). She was the scientific coordinator of two large European grants, ABBI (~€2 million) and WeDraw (~€2.5 million). One of her works has been listed in the faculty of 1000 (Gori et al. Curr Biol, 2008). In 2012, she won the TR35 price for young innovators. In 2020 Monica won an ERC STG with the MYSpace project. The project started in January 2021.