NeXT Neurophysiology and Neuroengineering of Human Technology Interaction

Research topics and methodology

The Research Unit investigates the neurophysiological processes underlying complex interaction between the human nervous system and technological artifacts.

Nowadays, technology plays an increasingly important role in human life. Body identity is changing through man interaction with devices, robots, functional replacement tools (e.g. prostheses) and able-bodied subjects augmentation. From a neuroscientific perspective, this may have a strong impact on well-known concepts, such as sensory feedback, motor control, cognition, biomechanics, learning and functional recovery.

The Research Unit’s object of study is not only humans as such, but modern humans in the era of confluence with technology, both in their physiological and pathological manifestations. Furthermore, the Research Unit aims at investigating classical topics from neurophysiology of systems (motor control, body representation, etc.) using typical neuroengineering tools (e.g. modelling, objectification, automation). Its multidisciplinary nature – (the team consists of physicians, psychologists, biologists, philosophers and engineers) –  promotes direct applications both on healthy subjects and patients.

Main lines of research

  • Neurophysiology of man/robotic limb system

- Neuroplasticity in amputees due to the lesion and following the use of prostheses. Embodiment of the prosthesis, establishment of body ownership and representation of the body by means of sensorimotor integration processes. Investigations of the same processes happening when able-bodied subjects contro supernumerary limbs.
- Electrophysiology of the prosthesis control and sensory feedback. Study of the neurophysiological correlates of phantom pain and of possible therapies based on the modulation of aberant brain plasticity. Study of foreign-body response to implantable intraneural electrodes and of its inhibition.

  • Modeling of Motor Control

- Study and modeling of the motor control strategies in children, in healthy adults and in patients with diseases of the nervous system. Modeling of brain plasticity and of interhemispheric interaction processes. Computational modeling of the post stroke recovery. Modeling of motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

Development of automated platforms
-Robot-assisted TMS: identification and automated maintenance of the site of stimulation.
-PD Meter: automatic evaluation of tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia.
-Platforms for evaluation and induction of prosthesis embodiment, performance and their neurophysiological correlates.

  • Neurophysiological Signal Processing

-Classical Neurophysiological Signal Processing of EKG, EEG, EMG, MR, DTI, fMRI data.
-Innovative algorithms for the signal processing of biomedical data (sparse signal processing, connectivity, graph theory, …).
-BCI and signal processing for human augmentation.

  • Computer Vision Systems and applications

- Computer Vision platforms for human performance evaluation in structured and unstructured environments.
- Computer Vision systems for the design and development of Human Machine Interfaces (HMI).

  • Immersive AR/VR Systems

-Virtual and Augmented Reality applications design and development with special focus on innovative Human and Brain Machine Interfaces (HMI and BMI).
- Graphic engines and dynamic VR scenes generation.
- Design and implementation of systems for interacting with VR worlds.

Projects in progress

DeTOP Dexterous Transradial Osseointegrated Prosthesis with neural control and sensory feedback GA: 687905

ERC-STG-2015 RESHAPE REstoring the Self with embodiable HAnd ProsthesEs
2016 - 2021

MIUR-FARE-2017 ENABLE Empowering Novel Augmentation Body Limb Embodiment
2016 - 2021

PPR AS 1/3 Evoluzione sistema impiantabile per il controllo della protesi di arto superiore con interfacce neurali invasive, con interfacce wireless
2017 -2020

PCR 1/2 Nuove metodiche nel trattamento delle amputazioni di arto, finalizzate all'applicazione di protesi bioniche
2017 -2020

Conbots: CONnected through roBOTS: physically coupling humans to boost handwriting and music learning

Projects concluded

  • PPR2 - Controllo della protesi di arto superiore con interfacce neurali invasive
  • GR-2011 - 02352674 Daily at-home follow-up of Parkinson's Disease patients motor performance through robortic and portable devices

Collaborations with other research centers

  • Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy
  • Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milano Italy
  • Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • University of Oxford, U.K.
  • University of Tübingen, Germany
  • Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
  • Imperial College of London, UK​
  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Centro Protesi Italian Workers’ Compensation Authority (INAIL) Vigorso di Budrio, Italy​
  • Sahgrenska University Hospital (Goterburg, Sweden)
  • San Camillo Hospital IRCCS (Venice, Italy)
  • University Clinics of Vienna


Next Lab, Centro per la Salute dell’Anziano (CESA), 1st floor, via Alvaro del Portillo 5, 00128 Roma (Tel. 06.22541.8885).

Main tools and techniques: EEG, TMS, tDCS, tACS, EMG, Wireless EMG, Magnetoinertial sensors, Robots/haptic interfaces, Virtual/Augmented Reality systems, Computer Vision systems.