What are the roles of new or altered experiences in shaping the organization of our sensory brain? How do these experiences affect the way we perceive our bodies or represent them in our brains?
We explore these fascinating questions using a multidisciplinary approach, spanning from psychology and cognitive sciences, through rehabilitation, up to computer science, and neuroimaging. More specifically, our scientific activity includes the building of novel devices and related algorithms to convey different types of novel sensory experiences via our existing sensory systems.
We use unique multisensory environments both in real life and virtual reality, where participants can be trained to interpret novel sensory experiences. We also record the effects of different sensory manipulations on brain activations via neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI. In parallel we also explore body-representations.
Our research uncovered that the body is represented in our brain much more extensively than classically conceived, namely well beyond the Penfield homunculus. This suggests that the interactions between our brain and body are more complex than previously known. Thus, our research aims to unravel the functional roles of these novel body-representations in the context also of body-mind interactions, ultimately aiming at developing innovative strategies for neuro wellness.