My research interests in Cognitive Neuroscience revolve around a number of topics including, among others, consciousness, sensory and multisensory processing, attention, learning and memory processes and action control. Within these topics, I am currently investigating the functional role of brain oscillations, the functional connectivity between remote but interconnected brain areas as well as their plasticity. To this aim, I use careful psychophysics, electroencephalography (EEG), noninvasive neurostimulation methods (such as TMS and tACS) and their online combination in healthy, aging, subclinical (e.g. schizotypy) and clinical populations (e.g. migraine).
The functional role of brain oscillations and the plastic properties of functional connections underlying conscious experience
We continuously integrate/segregate information within and across the senses leading to a coherent conscious experience of the external world. Despite this undoubtable subjective coherent experience of continuity, there is increasing evidence that subtending neural processes might represent discrete rather than continuous temporal moments. A taster of such apparent contradiction can be provided, for example, by the subjective experience of crossmodal illusions, an elective viewpoint to test spatio-temporal boundaries of human perceptual sampling leading to conscious experience. By using noninvasive neurostimulation techniques (TMS and tACS) in combination with electroencephalography (EEG) and careful psychophysics in the healthy, aging and subclinical populations, I test neural mechanisms of conscious processing ranging from binding phenomena to time perception.
The main lines of investigation include:
1) entraining oscillatory activity to causally test the functional role of brain oscillations in temporal binding phenomena and their relation to time perception and judgment of causality;
2) inducing plastic changes of functional connections controlling sensory integration to test specific contributions of back-projections during conscious processes;
3) testing oscillatory properties of functional networks by developing novel EEG-guided neurostimulation protocols.
These lines of investigation assess both local neural processes and complex neural networks through the use of novel, state-of-the-art neurostimulation protocols in a multimethod environment. Particular attention is devoted to inter-individual differences in the coordination of bottom-up and top-down factors leading to individual conscious processes.
1. Wolinski N, Cooper NR, Sauseng P, Romei V. (2018). The speed of parietal theta frequency drives visuospatial working memory capacity. PLoS Biology.16, e2005348.
2. Romei V, Thut G, Silvanto J. (2016). Information-Based Approaches of Noninvasive Transcranial Brain Stimulation. Trends in Neurosciences. 39, 782-795.
3. Romei V, Chiappini E, Hibbard PB, Avenanti A. (2016). Empowering Reentrant Projections from V5 to V1 Boosts Sensitivity to Motion. Current Biology. 26, 2155-2160.
4. Romei V, Bauer M, Brooks JL, Economides M, Penny W, Thut G, Driver J, Bestmann S. (2016). Causal evidence that intrinsic beta-frequency is relevant for enhanced signal propagation in the motor system as shown through rhythmic TMS. NeuroImage. 126, 120-130.
5. Cecere R, Rees G, Romei V. (2015). Individual differences in alpha frequency drive crossmodal illusory perception. Current Biology. 25, 231-235.
6. Romei V, Gross J, Thut G. (2012). Sounds reset rhythms of visual cortex and corresponding human visual perception. Current Biology. 22, 807-813.
7. Romei V, Driver J, Schyns PG, Thut G. (2011). Rhythmic TMS over parietal cortex links distinct brain frequencies to global versus local visual processing. Current Biology. 21, 334-337.
8. Romei V, Gross J, Thut G. (2010). On the role of prestimulus alpha rhythms over occipito-parietal areas in visual input regulation: correlation or causation? Journal of Neuroscience. 30, 8692-8697.
9. Romei V, Murray MM, Cappe C, Thut G. (2009). Preperceptual and stimulus-selective enhancement of low-level human visual cortex excitability by sounds. Current Biology. 19, 1799-1805.
10. Romei V, Brodbeck V, Michel C, Amedi A, Pascual-Leone A, Thut G. (2008). Spontaneous fluctuations in posterior alpha-band EEG activity reflect variability in excitability of human visual areas. Cerebral Cortex. 18, 2010-2018.