Special Issues

Special Issue Title: The sensory-cognitive interplay: insights into the neural mechanisms and circuits

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· Deadline for manuscript submissions:  31 March 2021

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor

Prof. Elisa Magosso

Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering “Guglielmo Marconi”, University of Bologna, Campus of Cesena, Italy

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Interests: Computational neuroscience, bio-inspired neural network models, hebbian mechanisms of synapses learning, electroencephalography and brain rhythms, biomedical signal processing

Prof. Mauro Ursino

Department of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering “Guglielmo Marconi”, University of Bologna, Campus of Cesena, Italy

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Interests: Computational neuroscience, bio-inspired neural network models, brain rhythms, multisensory integration, semantic Memory, parkinson disease, electroencephalography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sensation and cognition are pillars of human experience and interact tightly in a bidirectional and multifaceted way. As senses represent our interface with the external world, sensory inputs provide the information that founds and drives our cognitive processes. Our interaction with the world is usually multimodal, involving multiple senses simultaneously (e.g. vision, audition, smell) as well as motor aspects. Therefore, multimodal (rather than unimodal) experiences play a fundamental role in shaping our perception and cognition. High-level perception and cognitive functions such as multisensory integration, attention, memory, language, perceptual awareness, self-awareness develop upon (multi)sensory inputs since our early life experiences and are continuously updated and modulated by them. Not only senses impact on cognition but the sensory processes themselves are strongly affected by our cognitive states. Emotions, context, expectations, motivations, mental images, attentional states influence our sensory systems, e.g. by increasing or decreasing sensitivity of specific sensory channels or by blocking out some sensory inputs, thus altering how the external information flows and is processed throughout the brain. Recalling items stored in memory may even re-activate the same sensory-motor features provided by the sensory inputs during learning. 

Many empirical and theoretical studies have contributed to elucidate the complex interactions between sensory and cognitive functions. However, further contributions are needed to provide insight into the neural mechanisms and networks that underpin the close sensory-cognitive interplay, potentially outlining common mechanistic principles spanning throughout the manifold aspects of this interplay. These common mechanisms may include (but are not limited to): cortical hierarchical organization (from low-level sensory areas to high-level associative areas), synaptic arrangement (feedback/feedforward), anatomical/functional connectivity, synaptic plasticity and learning, neural competition and cooperation, top-down/bottom-up mechanisms. 

We welcome both theoretical and experimental contributions that using psychophysical, electrophysiological, neuroimaging, neurocomputational modelling approaches, attempt to advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms behind sensory-cognitive intertwining. Contributions may focus on one or more among the several aspects previously cited (multisensory integration, attention, emotion, semantic memory and language, working memory, awareness) addressing them as to healthy subjects or neurological/sensory-deprived patients (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, blindness, deafness, etc. ). 

Prof. Elisa Magosso and Prof. Mauro Ursino 

Guest Editor


Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at https://jour.ipublishment.com/imr/access/login by registering and logging into this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Integrative Neuroscience is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by IMR Press.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is $1500. We normally offer a discount greater than 30% (APC: $1050) to all contributors invited by the Editor-in-Chief, Guest Editor (GE) and Editorial board member. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English.


Sensory information, cognitive processes, multisensory, memory, attention, language, cerebral cortex, neural networks, connectivity


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Planned Paper (1 paper)

Title: Connection between rs6265 polymorphisms in the BDNF > genes and the successful mastering of video-oculographic interface
Author(s): Artem P. Gureev

Published Papers (4 papers)
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The superior parietal lobule of primates: a sensory-motor hub for interaction with the environment
Lauretta Passarelli, Michela Gamberini, Patrizia Fattori
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2021, 20 (1): 157-171.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2021.01.334
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The superior parietal lobule of the macaque monkey occupies the postero-medial part of the parietal lobe and plays a crucial role in the integration of different sources of information (from visual, motor and somatosensory brain regions) for the purpose of high-level cognitive functions, as perception for action. This region encompasses the intraparietal sulcus and the parieto-occipital sulcus and includes also the precuneate cortex in the mesial surface of the hemisphere. It hosts several areas extensively studied in the macaque: PE, PEip, PEci anteriorly and PEc, MIP, PGm and V6A posteriorly. Recently studies based on functional MRI have suggested putative human homologue of some of the areas of the macaque superior parietal lobule. Here we review the anatomical subdivision, the cortico-cortical and thalamo-cortical connections of the macaque superior parietal lobule compared with their functional properties and the homology with human organization in physiological and lesioned situations. The knowledge of this part of the macaque brain could help in understanding pathological conditions that in humans affect the normal behaviour of arm-reaching actions and can inspire brain computer interfaces performing in more accurate ways the sensorimotor transformations needed to interact with the surrounding environment.
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Attention: Multiple types, brain resonances, psychological functions, and conscious states
Stephen Grossberg
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2021, 20 (1): 197-232.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2021.01.406
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This article describes neural models of attention. Since attention is not a disembodied process, the article explains how brain processes of consciousness, learning, expectation, attention, resonance, and synchrony interact. These processes show how attention plays a critical role in dynamically stabilizing perceptual and cognitive learning throughout our lives. Classical concepts of object and spatial attention are replaced by mechanistically precise processes of prototype, boundary, and surface attention. Adaptive resonances trigger learning of bottom-up recognition categories and top-down expectations that help to classify our experiences, and focus prototype attention upon the patterns of critical features that predict behavioral success. These feature-category resonances also maintain the stability of these learned memories. Different types of resonances induce functionally distinct conscious experiences during seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing that are described and explained, along with their different attentional and anatomical correlates within different parts of the cerebral cortex. All parts of the cerebral cortex are organized into layered circuits. Laminar computing models show how attention is embodied within a canonical laminar neocortical circuit design that integrates bottom-up filtering, horizontal grouping, and top-down attentive matching. Spatial and motor processes obey matching and learning laws that are computationally complementary to those obeyed by perceptual and cognitive processes. Their laws adapt to bodily changes throughout life, and do not support attention or conscious states.
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Small-world EEG network analysis of functional connectivity in developmental dyslexia after visual training intervention
Juliana A. Dushanova, Stefan A. Tsokov
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2020, 19 (4): 601-618.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2020.04.193
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Aberrations in functional connectivity in children with developmental dyslexia have been found in electroencephalographic studies using graph analysis. How training with visual tasks can modify the functional semantic network in developmental dyslexia remains unclear. We investigate local and global topological properties of functional networks in multiple EEG frequency ranges based on a small-world propensity method in controls, pre- and post-training dyslexic children during visual word/pseudoword processing. Results indicated that the EEG network topology in dyslexics before the training was more integrated than controls, and after training - more segregated and similar to that of the controls in the theta (θ: 4-8), alpha (α: 8-13), beta (β1: 13-20; β2: 20-30), and gamma (γ1: 30-48; γ2: 52-70 Hz) bands for three graph measures. The pre-training dyslexics exhibited a reduced strength and betweenness centrality of the left anterior temporal and parietal regions in the θ, α, β1 and γ1-frequency bands, compared to the controls. The simultaneous appearance of hubs in the left hemisphere (or both hemispheres) at temporal and parietal (α-word/γ-pseudoword discrimination), temporal and middle frontal cortex (θ, α-word), parietal and middle frontal cortex (β1-word), parietal and occipitotemporal cortices (θ-pseudoword), identified in the EEG-based functional networks of normally developing children were not present in the networks of dyslexics. The hub distribution for dyslexics in the θ, α, β1 bands became similar to that of the controls. The topological organization of functional networks and the less efficient network configuration (long characteristic path length) in dyslexics compared to the more optimal global organization in the controls was studied for the first time after remediation training.
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Alpha and theta mechanisms operating in internal-external attention competition
Elisa Magosso, Giulia Ricci, Mauro Ursino
Journal of Integrative Neuroscience    2021, 20 (1): 1-19.   DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2021.01.422
Abstract209)   HTML735)    PDF(pc) (6835KB)(202)       Save

Attention is the ability to prioritize a set of information at expense of others and can be internally- or externally-oriented. Alpha and theta oscillations have been extensively implicated in attention. However, it is unclear how these oscillations operate when sensory distractors are presented continuously during task-relevant internal processes, in close-to-real-life conditions. Here, EEG signals from healthy participants were obtained at rest and in three attentional conditions, characterized by the execution of a mental math task (internal attention), presentation of pictures on a monitor (external attention), and task execution under the distracting action of picture presentation (internal-external competition). Alpha and theta power were investigated at scalp level and at some cortical regions of interest (ROIs); moreover, functional directed connectivity was estimated via spectral Granger Causality. Results show that frontal midline theta was distinctive of mental task execution and was more prominent during competition compared to internal attention alone, possibly reflecting higher executive control; anterior cingulate cortex appeared as mainly involved and causally connected to distant (temporal/occipital) regions. Alpha power in visual ROIs strongly decreased in external attention alone, while it assumed values close to rest during competition, reflecting reduced visual engagement against distractors; connectivity results suggested that bidirectional alpha influences between frontal and visual regions could contribute to reduce visual interference in internal attention. This study can help to understand how our brain copes with internal-external attention competition, a condition intrinsic in the human sensory-cognitive interplay, and to elucidate the relationships between brain oscillations and attentional functions/dysfunctions in daily tasks.
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