WHO WE ARE

Who we are

The Unit for Visually Impaired People (U-VIP) is mainly composed of neuroscientists and engineers working together to study the effects of early blindness on motor, cognitive and social skills. In detail, we want to investigate how the absence of visual experience affects the development and integration of sensory and motor signals. Starting from the results of these researches, we aim to design novel solutions (technologies and rehabilitation procedures) to enhance the sensorimotor abilities necessary to orient and move in space, communicate, access everyday information, and interact in social contexts. We think that early intervention is necessary in visually impaired children to improve navigation, communication, mobility and social skills. The creation of science-driven new rehabilitation devices to be used early in life indeed will provide clear scientific advancements and will drastically improve the quality of life of individuals with visual disability and their social inclusion. The devices of our Unit are user-friendly and ergonomic and are thought to be used by visually impaired children in both real-life and clinical settings. In U-VIP are performed behavioral and neurophysiological studies in children and adults with or without visual disabilities. Most of our technologies rely on the use of acoustic and haptic information. We currently have several computer-controlled set-ups to perform psychophysical tests, an eye-tracker, a virtual reality device, a vestibular evaluation set-up, and two robots for supporting the navigation of disabled people. The Unit also has access to the Center for Human Technologies labs, which comprise multiple motion capture systems, EEG and TMS equipment, force plates, and surface EMG recording. The Unit collaborates with several clinical and rehabilitative centers in Italy and with Italian and international research groups.

What we do

What we do

The research Unit for Visually Impaired People (U-VIP) studies the development of perception and brain functioning in children and adults to improve the quality of life in people with and without disabilities. In particular, the group's studies focus on investigating and improving cognitive abilities such as spatial cognition and learning skills and memory, orientation, and mobility. The group's activities can be divided into two primary purposes, scientific and technological. The scientific purpose is to increase knowledge about the perceptual mechanisms that allow individuals with and without sensory disabilities to adapt to the demands of the environment. On the other hand, the technological purpose of the group is to develop tools to improve learning in children with typical development and to compensate for perceptual difficulties of individuals with sensory disabilities. The research is based on three cornerstones to satisfy both scientific and technological aims. Firstly, the study of the brain to know how it develops and how to integrate different sensory information to build a representation of its surroundings. Secondly, the development of simple technologies that start from the users' requests and exploit communication channels already existing and used by the user, and finally, the planning of dedicated learning and rehabilitation programs for all ages and visual and linguistic disabilities. In summary, our research exploits the study of humans with typical and atypical development to develop technologies built to improve the quality of life of people with and without sensory disabilities.