MySpace starts from the idea of Monica Gori to study the ontogenesis of spatial representations in children and adolescents both sighted and visually impaired. MySpace uses a radically new approach to investigate children at different ages to determine how independent audio and tactile systems develop, how they are integrated, and how they are involved in processing spatial information. This approach will allow us to determine the temporal window for spatial skills development in case of lack of vision and the critical developmental periods for their recovery. Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies that combine advanced methods in psychophysics and neurophysiology (high-density EEG and MRI) with multisensory modeling will be performed . The outcome of MySpace will be a novel multisensory procedure to help blind children develop integrated and coherent multi-modal spatial representations.

In Detail:

  • Objective 1

    Study of the role of vision in the development of acoustic and tactile unisensory spatial representations and identification of the time window during typical development and not in which these skills begin to manifest.

  • Objective 2

    Study of the role of vision in developing integrated multisensory audio/tactile spatial representations and identification of the time window during typical development and not in which such capacities begin to manifest.

  • Objective 3

    Identification of the developmental stage when the cortical re-organization process begins in blind individuals. We will verify if this process starts during the first years of life when even the first spatial abilities are acquired.

  • Objective 4

    Design and development of multisensory training to rehabilitate the spatial skills compromised by visual disability from the first year of life. We will check whether the benefits of this training will be present after one year from its end and whether this procedure affects the cortical re-organization process.

MySpace will exploit rigorous behavioral, psychophysical, motion tracking MRI and EEG methods. Mathematical models (Race and Bayesian) will be used to verify the predictions on multisensory abilities.

The experiments will include localization and spatial discrimination of acoustic and tactile stimuli, both static and dynamic. The neuro-physiological architecture associated with multisensory integration will be studied through the EEG and the MRI.

ERC Starting Grant
Principal Investigator: Monica Gori
Period: 1/2021- 12/2025. G.A: 948349

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