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Neonatal Neuroimaging Unit

The Neonatal Neuroimaging Unit (NNU, dedicated web site coming soon!) of CIMeC is a newly established laboratory dedicated to cognitive neuroscience research on newborns. The NNU is hosted in the Maternity Unit of Rovereto's Hospital (Ospedale Santa Maria del Carmine) thanks to the invaluable collaboration of the Pediatrics and the Obstetrics Divisions of the hospital and operates within a formal agreement between CIMeC and the Azienda Provinciale per i Servizi Sanitari of Trento.

Watch the TV service from the national broadcast RAI (June 2016) on the NNU here!

The EEG system 

A newborn-friendly high-density (128 channels) Electroencephalography (EEG) EGI system has been installed in the NNU in October 2015. 

EGI EEG systems are optimal for infant electrophysiological recordings because:
- The contact between the channels and the scalp is made of soft sponges soaked in simple saline solution; the EEG net is therefore comfortable to wear, fast to apply, and there is no need of skin abrasion;
- The high-impedance EGI amplifier allows standard quality of the EEG signal;
- The high-density channel coverage allows maximal spatial resolution of the EEG activity.

EGI's Geodesic sensor net for infants.

I am responsible for the management and general operation of the newborn EEG lab. Specifically, I am responsible for:
  • The choice, installation and maintenance of the EEG system and associated devices (stimuli presentation, video recordings etc.)
  • The daily operation of the EEG lab
  • EEG user training on experimental design, data acquisition and data analysis
  • Development of innovative experimental designs and data analysis tools tailored on the particular constraints of newborn studies (limited attentional span, artefacts) (see for example Frequency Tagging)

The NIRS system

Since fall 2013, the NNU is equipped with a Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) Imagent system, managed by CIMeC NIRS bioengineer Matteo Caffini. I collaborate with Matteo on NIRS data acquisition and analysis. Our long-term project is to integrate the NIRS optic fibers on an EEG net to perform simultaneous EEG-NIRS recordings.

NNU Research Projects 

The initial swing that gave birth to the NNU is Giorgio Vallortigara's project "Predisposed mechanisms for social orienting: A comparative neuro-cognitive approach" funded with an ERC advanced grant from the European Community in 2012. Part of the project consists in exploring the brain activity related to biological motion and face processing in newborns. A preliminary NIRS study has been completed, new experiments are starting with both NIRS and EEG recordings.

February 2019: First work from the NNU is published!
Buiatti M, Di Giorgio E, Piazza M, Polloni C, Menna G, Taddei F, Baldo E, Vallortigara G,

Another starting project, in collaboration with Manuela Piazza, will use EEG to study the neural basis of numerosity perception in newborns.

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