Scientific publications

Scientific publications constitute the path, evolution and memory of our knowledge of the sectors and fields of application of our studies.

In this section we present some of the most significant examples of our research.

31 JAN 2012

Psychophysiological assessment of emotions

Authors: M Mauri, F Onorati, V Russo, R Barbieri, L Mainardi

Journal: International Journal of Bioelectromagnetism

The scientific dispute concerning the identification of different psychophysiological patterns associated with specific emotions is still far to be settled. In this preliminary work we present new empirical data to foster the understanding of this topic. We report results related to cardio-respiratory indexes during the experience of autobiografical recall of emotions, namely: fear, anger, happiness and sadness, and show how it is possible to distinguish in a significant way between the different emotions and baseline conditions in 27 students. Of note, some indexes were even able to detect a significant difference between all four emotions. Although these preliminary findings refer to a partial sample of the ongoing research project, aimed at recording data from up to 60 subjects, the data support the possibility to detect specific psychophysiological patterns associated to the target emotions. A confirmation of these findings would foster the development of new tools for automatic recognition of affective states by means of cardio-respiratory signals.

01 DEC 2011

Microsaccades and Exploratory Saccades in a Naturalistic Environment

Authors: S Benedetto, M Pedrotti, B Bridgeman

Journal: Journal of Eye Movement Research 4 (2), 1-10

Microsaccades, small saccadic eye movements made during fixation, might accompany shifts of visual attention, serve to refresh the retinal image, or have some other function. We tested the relative importance of these functions by recording exploratory saccades and microsaccades with a free head during a lane-change task in a simulated driving environment, accompanied by a simultaneous visual search task in which drivers searched for a target among similar distractors on a panel to the driver’s right where an electronic display would normally be located. After training, observers performed a baseline run with the lane-change task only, followed by four dual-task runs and a final control run. In the dual-task condition, where more visual attention shifts occur, we found a significantly increased frequency of microsaccades along with an even larger increase in frequency of large exploratory saccades. However, the proportion of microsaccades significantly decreased in the dual task, consistent with the idea of a common neurological origin for microsaccades and exploratory saccades.

31 JAN 2011

Why Is Facebook So Successful? Psychophysiological Measures Describe a Core Flow State While Using Facebook

Authors: M Mauri, P Cipresso, A Balgera, M Villamira, G Riva


People are more and more using social networking sites (SNSs) like Facebook and MySpace to engage with others. The use of SNSs can have both positive and negative effect on the individual; however, the increasing use of SNSs might reveal that people look for SNSs because they have a positive experience when they use them. Few studies have tried to identify which particular aspects of the social networking experience make SNSs so successful. In this study we focus on the affective experience evoked by SNSs. In particular, we explore whether the use of SNSs elicits a specific psychophysiological pattern. Specifically, we recorded skin conductance, blood volume pulse, electroencephalogram, electromyography, respiratory activity, and pupil dilation in 30 healthy subjects during a 3-minute exposure to (a) a slide show of natural panoramas (relaxation condition), (b) the subject’s personal Facebook account, and (c) a Stroop and mathematical task (stress condition). Statistical analysis of the psychophysiological data and pupil dilation indicates that the Facebook experience was significantly different from stress and relaxation on many linear and spectral indices of somatic activity. Moreover, the biological signals revealed that Facebook use can evoke a psychophysiological state characterized by high positive valence and high arousal (Core Flow State). These findings support the hypothesis that the successful spread of SNSs might be associated with a specific positive affective state experienced by users when they use their SNSs account.

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