Neural Computation

Neural Computation

The Neural Computation Laboratory aims at understanding how circuits of neurons in the brain exchange and transmit information and contribute to sensation and behavior.

The laboratory addresses this issue by developing advanced statistical tools for the analysis of simultaneous recordings of neural activity from multiple locations, by applying these tools to empirical data to understand how neurons encode and transmit information, and by developing biophysically plausible models of neural circuit dynamics that explain the empirical findings.



Our research activities include

  • Information theoretic methods to study neural representations
  • Role of neural dynamics (spike timing, oscillations) in encoding and transmitting information
  • Role of gamma oscillations in dynamical routing communication across circuits information transfer
  • Role of noradrenaline in shaping cortical information processing Measures of information flow and functional connectivity from mesoscopic and macroscopic measures of neural activity
  • Theory of how causal manipulations can be used to crack the neural code

Moreover our group includes several laboratories working on specific research fields

Activities group

Brain Stimulation (Battelli)

We are interested in all aspects of vision and visual perception studied in the healthy and in the pathological brain. In particular we use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to study the mechanisms of intracortical inhibition and excitation that guide human response to visual stimuli and perceptual decision making.

Our overarching goal is to determine what cortical areas are necessary for tasks of visual attention and visual integration in space and time. All these functions can be severely impaired in cerebral lesion patients. Therefore our main goal is to develop new techniques of rehabilitation using TMS and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

Active Vision (Domini)

The two main goals of the Active Vision Laboratory are:

  • developing sophisticated rendering systems that will allow the generation of more realistic and ecologically valid displays;
  • developing computational models of 3D perceptual processes and testing the biological validity of these models with the rendering tools.

The research activities are divided in two main branches

3D Information for perception and action

The main goal of the Active Vision Laboratory is to develop experimental paradigms that will allow us to have a more complete control over 3D cues to depth. The aim is to understand how 3D cues influence perceptual and motor judgments.

Motor judgments will be studied by having observers reach-to-grasp virtual or real objects. We will monitor the observers movements, typically the movement of their hand and fingers, through an OPTOTRAK system.

Full cue environments and "real objects"

Computer generated displays can be easily manipulated by the experimenter and therefore constitute a useful tool for controlling 3D cues in the 2D rendered images. However, residual and uncontrolled cues are present in these displays, which specify the true flat surface of the monitor.

Real surfaces produce a richer stimulation, which includes less studied but nevertheless effective cues like the blurring gradient, motion parallax, accommodation cues and ocular convergence cues. In this research project we intend to study the influence of these cues on the perception of 3D shape by utilizing real objects of which we can control with high precision the 3D structure.

Neural Computer Interaction (Vato)

The Neural Computer Interaction Laboratory is interested in developing a theoretical framework, including a set of specifically designed and optimized mathematical algorithms, that can be used to analyze and decode Electrocorticographic signals (ECoGs) recorded form human subjects in order to increase our knowledge about the dynamics of the brain processes toward clinical applications.



Theoretical research in the lab is mostly carried out in the Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems at IIT Rovereto. The laboratory is equipped with state of the art computational facilities.


  • Optical Approaches to Brain Function at IIT (T. Fellin)
  • Functional Neuroimaging Lab at IIT (A. Gozzi)
  • SISSA (M. Diamond and D. Zoccolan)
  • Max Planck Tuebingen (N.K. Logothetis, O. Eschenko)
  • Harvard Medical School (C.D. Harvey)
  • University of Glasgow (C. Kayser, P. Schyns, J. Gross)

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Principal Investigator
Stefano Panzeri