In children under four years of age, head and hand movements will be tracked with a motion recording system (Vicon/Bonita). Besides, during the rehabilitation procedure, infrared cameras will trace the markers' spatial positions attached to specific parts of the body (such as the head, arms, and hands).
The EEG will be recorded from 128 scalp sites using the EGI system.
MRI data will be acquired with a 1.5 T scanner installed at the Fondazione Istituto Neurologico Casimiro Mondino in Pavia and at the Istituto Giannina Gaslini in Genoa.
In recent years, we have developed many mechatronics devices equipped with tactile sensors, tactile actuators, and speakers to investigate specific multisensory and sensory-motor skills in children. We will use these technologies in the project, together with other commercialized systems. If necessary, new parts of ad-hoc devices will be developed.
In the past years, many studies and researches demonstrated the pivotal role of vision in the generation of spatial representations. The latter are particularly useful to orient ourselves in the surrounding environment and carry out movements and actions. Visual experience is crucial for integrating sensory signals in a coherent configuration, taking into account the body position changes in space. However, when vision is absent, as in congenitally blind individuals, how the space representation develops is still unclear.
MySpace starts from the idea that, during development and especially in the first period of life, vision creates a link among audition and touch to build integrated spatial representations that contain information from multiple senses. Consequently, the lack of visual experience in blindness might interfere with the ability to develop unisensory and multisensory spatial representations of the environment. In particular, we hypothesize that compared to sighted children, the temporal windows of development for audio and tactile spatial representations are delayed in blind children.
MySpace aims to identify the functional specificity of the critical periods for the development (and recovering) of an integrated multi-modal space representation. By elucidating these aspects, the project will fill a fundamental gap in the knowledge of audio, tactile, and multisensory spatial representations by determining how visual experience shapes them during development. As an outcome, MYSpace will provide a new rehabilitative methodology to improve the impaired spatial and motor skills in blind infants.
ERC Starting Grant
Principal Investigator: Monica Gori
Period: 1/2021- 12/2025. G.A: 948349
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