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Michela Gamberini

Associate Professor

Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences

Academic discipline: BIO/09 Physiology


Keywords: sensorimotor dorsal visual stream parieto-occipital cortex

1) Visuo-motor integration in the posterior parietal cortex: visual control of motor act using functional studies based with extracellular recording techniques and anatomical studies of connection with injections of neuronal tracers.
2) Architectural organization of areas of parieto-occipital cortex: areal subdivision of the parieto-occipital sulcus on the basis of cytoarchitectonic criteria (distribution of neurons) and chemoarchitetture (distribution of neurotransmitter receptors).
3) Digital reconstructions of the brain: two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps of the brains from the digitization of histological sections, and reconstruction of anatomical and functional data collected.
4) The posterior parietal cortex of primates: homologies and differences in the posterior parietal cortex of monkeys of the Old and New World: functional and anatomical study.

 1) Visuo-motor integration in the posterior parietal cortex. The study focuses the knowledge of some areas located on the posterior parietal cortex (PPc) including areas V6, V6A and PEc. The purpose of the research is to evaluate how much and how this brain region is involved in visuo-motor control of upper limb movements aimed at achieving an object in space. The experiments are performed recording bioelectrical activity of single neurons under visual and somatosensory stimulation, as well as evaluating the modulation of neuronal activity under oculomotor and motor activity of upper limb. We are also interested to know the cortical circuit of which the PPc takes part. Injections of neuronal tracers are performed in cortical areas functionally studied in order to identify the cortical connections. 2) Organization of architectural areas of the parieto-occipital sulcus. Areas V2, V3, V6, V6A and PEc functionally defined are studied also from the cytoarchitectonic point of view in order to identify any sub-areas anatomically distinguishable. The survey is based on the observation of microscopic histological sections stained with different methods (such as Nissl, Gallyas and immunohistochemistry for example with the antibody SMI-32) to highlight specific distributions of cells/fibers. Other histological sections are processed for autoradiography highlight the presence and distribution of different specific membrane receptors for classical neurotransmitters of the cerebral cortex. 3) Digital reconstructions of the brain. Starting from histological sections of the brain, two-and three-dimensional maps of the studied cases are reconstructed in order to digitally reproduce the spatial structure of the brain. These reconstructions are very useful to report the data acquired and then the anatomical localization of the functionally studied cells, cells marked with the neuronal tracers, together with the limits (anatomical and functional) of the areas of interest. This is a very useful tool to correlate the structure of a cortical region with its functionality. 4) The posterior parietal cortex of primates. The comparison between different evolutionary families of primates, is very interesting in order to further understand the evolutionary transition between the higher brain functions of non-human primates and human. For this purpose we have developed functional and anatomical experiments using similar methods refer to different experimental subjects: on the one hand we used Old World monkeys of the genus Macaca fascicularis and other New World monkeys of the genus Callithrix jacchus. The results obtained from investigations conducted in the complex of areas V6/V6A of Old World monkeys is compared with the results obtained from the study of the homologous region of the medial posterior parietal cortex, the complex areas of DM/DA/M of the New World monkeys.

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