Publications by authors named "Ilaria Sani"

18 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

The human endogenous attentional control network includes a ventro-temporal cortical node.

Nat Commun 2021 01 15;12(1):360. Epub 2021 Jan 15.

Laboratory of Neural Systems, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY, 10065, USA.

Endogenous attention is the cognitive function that selects the relevant pieces of sensory information to achieve goals and it is known to be controlled by dorsal fronto-parietal brain areas. Here we expand this notion by identifying a control attention area located in the temporal lobe. By combining a demanding behavioral paradigm with functional neuroimaging and diffusion tractography, we show that like fronto-parietal attentional areas, the human posterior inferotemporal cortex exhibits significant attentional modulatory activity. This area is functionally distinct from surrounding cortical areas, and is directly connected to parietal and frontal attentional regions. These results show that attentional control spans three cortical lobes and overarches large distances through fiber pathways that run orthogonally to the dominant anterior-posterior axes of sensory processing, thus suggesting a different organizing principle for cognitive control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20583-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7810878PMC
January 2021

A novel stop codon variant affecting ΔNp63 isoforms associated with non-syndromic limb-mammary phenotype and uterine cervix dysplasia.

Clin Genet 2021 Mar 1;99(3):486-487. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

DINOGMI, University of Genova - UOC Genetica Medica IRCCS Giannina Gaslini, Genoa, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cge.13889DOI Listing
March 2021

Functionally defined white matter of the macaque monkey brain reveals a dorso-ventral attention network.

Elife 2019 01 2;8. Epub 2019 Jan 2.

Laboratory of Neural Systems, The Rockefeller University, New York, United States.

Classical studies of attention have identified areas of parietal and frontal cortex as sources of attentional control. Recently, a ventral region in the macaque temporal cortex, the posterior infero-temporal dorsal area PITd, has been suggested as a third attentional control area. This raises the question of whether and how spatially distant areas coordinate a joint focus of attention. Here we tested the hypothesis that parieto-frontal attention areas and PITd are directly interconnected. By combining functional MRI with ex-vivo high-resolution diffusion MRI, we found that PITd and dorsal attention areas are all directly connected through three specific fascicles. These results ascribe a new function, the communication of attention signals, to two known fiber-bundles, highlight the importance of vertical interactions across the two visual streams, and imply that the control of endogenous attention, hitherto thought to reside in macaque dorsal cortical areas, is exerted by a dorso-ventral network.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.40520DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345568PMC
January 2019

Optic Nerve Degeneration and Reduced Contrast Sensitivity Due to Folic Acid Deficiency: A Behavioral and Electrophysiological Study in Rhesus Monkeys.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2018 12;59(15):6045-6056

Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.

Purpose: The purpose of the research was to elucidate the role of folic acid (B9) deficiency in the development of nutritional optic neuritis and to characterize the neurophysiological consequences of optic nerve degeneration in the cortical visual system.

Methods: A combined behavioral and electrophysiological approach was applied to study luminance contrast sensitivity in two macaque monkeys affected by nutritional optic neuritis and in two healthy monkeys for comparison. For one monkey, a follow-up approach was applied to compare visual performance before onset of optic neuropathy, during the disease, and after treatment.

Results: Optic nerve degeneration developed as a consequence of insufficient dietary intake of folic acid in two exemplars of macaque monkeys. The degeneration resulted in markedly reduced luminance contrast sensitivity as assessed behaviorally. In one monkey, we also measured visual activity in response to varying contrast at the level of single neurons in the cortical visual system and found a striking reduction in contrast sensitivity, as well as a marked increase in the latency of neuronal responses. Prolonged daily folate supplementation resulted in a significant recovery of function.

Conclusions: Folic acid deficiency per se can lead to the development of optic nerve degeneration in otherwise healthy adult animals. The optic nerve degeneration strongly affects contrast sensitivity and leads to a distinct reduction in the strength and velocity of the incoming signal to cortical visual areas of the macaque brain, without directly affecting excitability and functional properties of cortical neurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.18-24822DOI Listing
December 2018

Workload measurement for molecular genetics laboratory: A survey study.

PLoS One 2018 27;13(11):e0206855. Epub 2018 Nov 27.

Unit of Medical Genetics Unit, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Genetic testing availability in the health care system is rapidly increasing, along with the diffusion of next-generation sequencing (NGS) into diagnostics. These issues make imperative the knowledge-drive optimization of testing in the clinical setting. Time estimations of wet laboratory procedure in Italian molecular laboratories offering genetic diagnosis were evaluated to provide data suitable to adjust efficiency and optimize health policies and costs. A survey was undertaken by the Italian Society of Human Genetics (SIGU). Forty-two laboratories participated. For most molecular techniques, the most time-consuming steps are those requiring an intensive manual intervention or in which the human bias can affect the global process time-performances. For NGS, for which the study surveyed also the interpretation time, the latter represented the step that requiring longer times. We report the first survey describing the hands-on times requested for different molecular diagnostics procedures, including NGS. The analysis of this survey suggests the need of some improvements to optimize some analytical processes, such as the implementation of laboratory information management systems to minimize manual procedures in pre-analytical steps which may affect accuracy that represents the major challenge to be faced in the future setting of molecular genetics laboratory.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0206855PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6258511PMC
April 2019

Temporally evolving gain mechanisms of attention in macaque area V4.

J Neurophysiol 2017 08 3;118(2):964-985. Epub 2017 May 3.

Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Italy;

Cognitive attention and perceptual saliency jointly govern our interaction with the environment. Yet, we still lack a universally accepted account of the interplay between attention and luminance contrast, a fundamental dimension of saliency. We measured the attentional modulation of V4 neurons' contrast response functions (CRFs) in awake, behaving macaque monkeys and applied a new approach that emphasizes the temporal dynamics of cell responses. We found that attention modulates CRFs via different gain mechanisms during subsequent epochs of visually driven activity: an early contrast-gain, strongly dependent on prestimulus activity changes (baseline shift); a time-limited stimulus-dependent multiplicative modulation, reaching its maximal expression around 150 ms after stimulus onset; and a late resurgence of contrast-gain modulation. Attention produced comparable time-dependent attentional gain changes on cells heterogeneously coding contrast, supporting the notion that the same circuits mediate attention mechanisms in V4 regardless of the form of contrast selectivity expressed by the given neuron. Surprisingly, attention was also sometimes capable of inducing radical transformations in the shape of CRFs. These findings offer important insights into the mechanisms that underlie contrast coding and attention in primate visual cortex and a new perspective on their interplay, one in which time becomes a fundamental factor. We offer an innovative perspective on the interplay between attention and luminance contrast in macaque area V4, one in which time becomes a fundamental factor. We place emphasis on the temporal dynamics of attentional effects, pioneering the notion that attention modulates contrast response functions of V4 neurons via the sequential engagement of distinct gain mechanisms. These findings advance understanding of attentional influences on visual processing and help reconcile divergent results in the literature.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00522.2016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5539452PMC
August 2017

Endocrine Long-Term Follow-Up of Children with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Optic Pathway Glioma
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Horm Res Paediatr 2017 27;87(3):179-188. Epub 2017 Mar 27.

Background/aims: Children with optic pathway glioma (OPG) face sequelae related to tumour location and treatment modalities. We aimed to assess the prevalence of hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunctions in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and OPG who did not receive radiotherapy or surgical resection. The causative role of tumour location on endocrinopathy development is investigated.

Methods: A retrospective follow-up study of 40 children with NF1 and OPG evaluated between August 1996 and May 2015 was undertaken. Patients who underwent radiotherapy or surgical resection were excluded and 36 patients were studied. Tumour location was classified according to the Dodge criteria: stage I, optic nerve alone; stage II, optic chiasm with or without optic nerve involvement; and stage III, involvement of the hypothalamus or other adjacent structures.

Results: Endocrinopathies were diagnosed in 20/36 (55.6%) children during a mean follow-up of 9.1 (0.2-13.6) years: 0/4 OPGs were Dodge stage I, 12/21 (57.1%) stage II, and 8/11 (72.7%) stage III. The first endocrinopathy was found at a mean age of 7.4 (5.0-13.2) years, 2.4 (0-6.7) years after tumour diagnosis. We found growth hormone deficiency (GHD; 36.1%), central precocious puberty (33.3%), obesity with insulin resistance/impaired glucose tolerance (11.1%), early puberty (5.5%), GH excess (5.5%), ACTH deficiency (5.5%), hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (2.7%), and thyrotropin deficiency (2.7%). GHD was transient in all of those who were retested.

Conclusion: This population is at high risk of endocrinopathies due to tumour location. Lifelong endocrine follow-up is recommended.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000458525DOI Listing
May 2017

[Clinical and molecular study in a family with autosomal dominant hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia].

Arch Argent Pediatr 2017 02;115(1):e34-e38

Institute for Maternal and Child Health - IRCCS "Burlo Garofolo", Trieste, Italy.

Hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (HED) is a rare disease characterized by deficiency in development of structure derived from the ectoderm and is caused by mutations in the genes EDA, EDAR, or EDARADD. Phenotypes caused by mutations in these three may exhibit similar clinical features, explained by a common signaling pathway. Mutations in EDA gene cause X linked HED, which is the most common form. Mutations in EDAR and EDARADD genes cause autosomal dominant and recessive form of HED. The most striking clinical findings in HED are hypodontia, hypotrichosis and hypohidrosis that can lead to episodes of hyperthermia. We report on clinical findings in a child with HED with autosomal dominant inheritance pattern with a heterozygous mutation c.1072C>T (p.Arg358X) in the EDAR gene. A review of the literature with regard to other cases presenting the same mutation has been carried out and discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5546/aap.2017.e34DOI Listing
February 2017

Reversible Growth Hormone Excess in Two Girls with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Optic Pathway Glioma.

Horm Res Paediatr 2015 22;84(6):414-22. Epub 2015 Oct 22.

Pediatric Department, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.

Background: A total of 12 children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1) with optic pathway glioma (OPG) and growth hormone (GH) excess are reported to date, but no data exist on the long-term outcome. We describe 2 girls with NF-1 with OPG and GH excess treated with somatostatin analogue (SSa) who maintained a normal GH axis after stopping SSa therapy.

Methods: The diagnosis of GH excess was established from auxological data, persistently high levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and a lack of GH suppression during an oral glucose tolerance test.

Results: Both patients were started on SSa treatment. During treatment, growth deceleration and normal IGF-1 levels were documented. The first case stopped treatment following the development of SSa side effects. The second case interrupted SSa when, closed to her final height, a normal IGF-1 level was documented. While off treatment, both cases maintained normal IGF-1 levels and appropriate growth velocity for their age and development, with normal GH secretion on biochemical testing. Both cases received treatment for central precocious puberty.

Conclusion: GH excess in NF-1 children with OPG can be reversed and only short-term SSa therapy may be required. The aetiology remains undetermined, but the course suggests a hypothalamic dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000440956DOI Listing
October 2016

CYP21A2 genetics: When genotype does not fit phenotype.

Clin Biochem 2016 Apr 21;49(6):524-525. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Institute of Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Catholic University, Largo A. Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2015.07.022DOI Listing
April 2016

Contact urticaria on eczematous skin by kiwifruit allergy. In vivo component-resolved diagnosis.

Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 2015 Sep-Oct;43(5):474-6. Epub 2014 Nov 11.

Department of Pediatrics, Agostino Gemelli Hospital, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.

Background: Kiwifruit allergy has been responsible for a variety of clinical manifestations, ranging from mild reactions, such as localised oral symptoms, to severe systemic symptoms, such as anaphylaxis. No cases of isolated contact urticaria (ICU) due to IgE-mediated allergy to kiwifruit have been reported in the literature so far. Here we describe the first three cases of ICU due to kiwi and we hypothesise about a kiwifruit allergen not described yet.

Methods: Using the available in vivo allergy tests, we performed a component-resolved diagnosis to detect the allergen involved. All the patients underwent prick-by-prick with raw and boiled kiwi pulp and latex glove, skin prick test with commercial extracts of kiwifruit, birch, latex, palm profilin and peach lipid transfer protein, rub test with raw and boiled kiwi and oral food challenges with the raw fruit.

Results: We found that, in our patients, the kiwifruit allergen responsible for ICU is thermolabile, gastrosensitive, and it does not show any of the most common kiwi-attributed cross-reactivity (latex, birch, profiling and lipid transfer protein). None of the 13 kiwifruit allergens already known shows all these features.

Conclusions: Kiwifruit allergy can also occur with ICU, probably due to a native protein that is not yet identified. In this case the elimination diet is not required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aller.2014.07.006DOI Listing
June 2016

Altering spatial priority maps via reward-based learning.

J Neurosci 2014 Jun;34(25):8594-604

Department of Neurological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, 37134 Verona, Italy.

Spatial priority maps are real-time representations of the behavioral salience of locations in the visual field, resulting from the combined influence of stimulus driven activity and top-down signals related to the current goals of the individual. They arbitrate which of a number of (potential) targets in the visual scene will win the competition for attentional resources. As a result, deployment of visual attention to a specific spatial location is determined by the current peak of activation (corresponding to the highest behavioral salience) across the map. Here we report a behavioral study performed on healthy human volunteers, where we demonstrate that spatial priority maps can be shaped via reward-based learning, reflecting long-lasting alterations (biases) in the behavioral salience of specific spatial locations. These biases exert an especially strong influence on performance under conditions where multiple potential targets compete for selection, conferring competitive advantage to targets presented in spatial locations associated with greater reward during learning relative to targets presented in locations associated with lesser reward. Such acquired biases of spatial attention are persistent, are nonstrategic in nature, and generalize across stimuli and task contexts. These results suggest that reward-based attentional learning can induce plastic changes in spatial priority maps, endowing these representations with the "intelligent" capacity to learn from experience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0277-14.2014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6608215PMC
June 2014

Selective tuning for contrast in macaque area V4.

J Neurosci 2013 Nov;33(47):18583-96

Department of Neurological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, I-37129 Verona, Italy, Department of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 0G4, Canada, Department of Translational Research on New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, I-56126 Pisa, Italy, Stella Maris Foundation IRCCS, I-56128 Pisa, Italy, and National Institute of Neuroscience, I-37134 Verona, Italy.

Visually responsive neurons typically exhibit a monotonic-saturating increase of firing with luminance contrast of the stimulus and are able to adapt to the current spatiotemporal context by shifting their selectivity, therefore being perfectly suited for optimal contrast encoding and discrimination. Here we report the first evidence of the existence of neurons showing selective tuning for contrast in area V4d of the behaving macaque (Macaca mulatta), i.e., narrow bandpass filter neurons with peak activity encompassing the whole range of visible contrasts and pronounced attenuation at contrasts higher than the peak. Crucially, we found that contrast tuning emerges after a considerable delay from stimulus onset, likely reflecting the contribution of inhibitory mechanisms. Selective tuning for luminance contrast might support multiple functions, including contrast identification and the attentive selection of low contrast stimuli.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3465-13.2013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6618802PMC
November 2013

Neural basis of visual selective attention.

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci 2011 Jul 4;2(4):392-407. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Department of Neurological, Neuropsychological, Morphological and Movement Sciences, Section of Physiology and Psychology, University of Verona Medical School, Verona, Italy.

Attentional modulation along the object-recognition pathway of the cortical visual system of primates has been shown to consist of enhanced representation of the retinal input at a specific location in space, or of objects located anywhere in the visual field which possess a critical object feature. Moreover, selective attention mechanisms allow the visual system to resolve competition among multiple objects in a crowded scene in favor of the object that is relevant for the current behavior. Finally, selective attention affects the spontaneous activity of neurons as well as their visually driven responses, and it does so not only by modulating the spiking activity of individual neurons, but also by modulating the degree of coherent firing within the critical neuronal populations. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 392-407 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.117 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wcs.117DOI Listing
July 2011

Preliminary evaluation of the educational strategy of a community alcohol use action research project in Scandicci (Italy).

Subst Use Misuse 2007 ;42(12-13):2029-40

Alcohol Centre, Florence Health Agency, Florence, Italy.

A community project aiming to promote responsible drinking and to prevent alcohol use-related problems in three districts of Scandicci, a town west of Florence, was undertaken between 2000 and 2004. The community totaled 21,851 residents. Among other initiatives, 8,000 carousels that provided information on different levels of alcohol consumption and more than 1,000 prints of nine drawings by local school children that promoted moderate consumption were distributed in the community, respectively, during February-July 2002 and May-June 2003. These formed part of a community educational strategy, spreading messages in keeping with the project's aims. Project process and impact evaluation studies documented firstly that the carousel was visible, interesting, and retained by the community members one year after distribution, while the children's drawing prints were visible and also retained some months later. Secondly, both educational tools were effective in mobilizing the local population because they were locally produced, widely distributed, and displayed in prominent community locations. Thirdly, a change in community opinion occurred during the course of the project from a more rigid idea in 2000 that only alcoholism is a problem toward a more comprehensive understanding in 2003 of community risk from alcohol consumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826080701655683DOI Listing
February 2008

Identification of forensic samples by using an infrared-based automatic DNA sequencer.

Croat Med J 2003 Jun;44(3):299-305

Genetics and Molecular Medicine Unit, A. Meyer Hospital, University of Florence, A. Meyer Hospital, Via Luca Giordano 13, 50132 Florence, Italy.

We have recently introduced a new protocol for analyzing all core loci of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) with an infrared (IR) automatic DNA sequencer (LI-COR 4200). The amplicons were labeled with forward oligonucleotide primers, covalently linked to a new infrared fluorescent molecule (IRDye 800). The alleles were displayed as familiar autoradiogram-like images with real-time detection. This protocol was employed for paternity testing, population studies, and identification of degraded forensic samples. We extensively analyzed some simulated forensic samples and mixed stains (blood, semen, saliva, bones, and fixed archival embedded tissues), comparing the results with donor samples. Sensitivity studies were also performed for the four multiplex systems. Our results show the efficiency, reliability, and accuracy of the IR system for the analysis of forensic samples. We also compared the efficiency of the multiplex protocol with ultraviolet (UV) technology. Paternity tests, undegraded DNA samples, and real forensic samples were analyzed with this approach based on IR technology and with UV-based automatic sequencers in combination with commercially-available kits. The comparability of the results with the widespread UV methods suggests that it is possible to exchange data between laboratories using the same core group of markers but different primer sets and detection methods.
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June 2003

Mixed stains from sexual assault cases: autosomal or Y-chromosome short tandem repeats?

Croat Med J 2003 Jun;44(3):289-92

Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Brescia, Italy.

We analyzed forensic DNA samples from four cases of sexual assault, using the Y-chromosome-specific human DNA markers and a panel of autosomal short tandem repeats (STRs). The presence of male contribution was evaluated by the analysis of the Amelogenin locus. A panel of tetrameric Y-STR (DYS19, DYS390, DYS391, DYS392, DYS385, DYS389I and II) was used in further analysis of samples, increasing the efficiency of the forensic genetic analyses. It was possible to identify a partial or full Y-profile of the rapists in different DNA mixtures when genetic profile could not be detected by autosomal STRs. However, in the case of male/male DNA mixture, only the victim's Y-profile could be obtained because the DNA of the offenders was present in low amounts. When the mixture contained different male/male proportion of DNA, only the full profile of the major component could be detected. In cases where male/female DNA mixed stains contained a sufficient amount of male DNA, the analysis of autosomal STRs was adequate enough to identify the full profile of the rapist. Our experience shows that the main advantage of the Y-STR approach is its ability to detect the male component in the mixed stains when the DNA of the male contributor is present only in a very small amount.
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June 2003

Analysis of 13 tetrameric short tandem repeat loci in a population of Tuscany (Central Italy) performed by means of an automated infrared sequencer.

Forensic Sci Int 2002 Jan;125(1):83-5

Genetic and Molecular Medicine Unit, University of Florence-Azienda, "A. Meyer"-Via Luca Giordano, 13 I-50132 Florence, Italy.

Allele frequencies for the 13 STRs of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) core were obtained from a sample of 188 unrelated individuals living in the area of Florence, Prato and Pistoia (Tuscany, Central Italy).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0379-0738(01)00604-1DOI Listing
January 2002