Facilities and Resources

Facilities for research with human participants at SISSA span virtually all state-of-the-art techniques in the field. We have a number of behavioural testing booths, including some specifically designed for ms-accurate display of visual stimuli. We host three different eye tracking systems, including one with high precision in space and time (EyeLink 1000+); two Biosemi EEG systems, allowing up to 128-channel recording; a neuronavigation-guided TMS system, allowing single and double pulse stimulation; a Biopac system for Electromyography. We have an olfactometermovement tracking systems, and a mirror stereoscope. Our department has access to 3T fMRI at the Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital in Udine, entirely maintained by School funds. 

Animal research also takes advantage of unique facilities and equipment. The Tactile Perception and Learning Lab houses state-of-the-art facilities for behavioral neurophysiology. These include 3 complete Tucker-Davis Technologies recording systems for multi-electrode array recordings from animals carrying out sensory-perceptual tasks. A set of 6 booths, endowed with acoustical, visual, vibrational and electromagnetic shielding, each hosts a fully mechanized setup.  The setups are computer-controlled through custom LabVIEW software together with both visible and infrared high-speed video recordings and tracking algorithms. An optogenetics line of research with novel physiological/optic integration has been recently initiated, opening the way to merging classical electrode-based techniques with optical excitation and inhibition in behaving rats. The Visual Neuroscience Lab features multiple scalable rack-mounted setups available for parallel training of batches of behaving animals in visual-based tasks. Each rack contains a Multi Channel Systems neural digital wireless recording system for free-moving subjects, as well as a wired Tucker-Davis traditional system. Novel arenas equipped with virtual reality displays allow studies in both real and virtual 3D custom-designed environments. Large computer controlled displays are available as active stimuli for acute surgery experiments. Advanced online video tracking methods have been internally developed and are available for both 2D and 3D tracking of the animal subject position and head movement. Animals of the Tactile Perception and Learning Laboratory and the Visual Neuroscience Laboratory are quartered in enriched, climate-controlled environments.

The Mechatronics Lab is a shared workshop facility equipped with a high resolution 3D-System plastic photolithographic printer, a laser cutter machine, a 4-axis CNC milling machine, a lathe, a column driller and other mechanical tools. Laboratory technicians are expert in electronics, mechanics, CAD, drawing, software, mathematics, engineering and animal handling. To broaden the training of young investigators, Mechatronics offers technical courses during the academic year. The Laboratory can also facilitate contacts between industry and research to nurture the transfer of technologies developed in Neuroscience.

Finally, SISSA hosts facilities outside the Cognitive Neuroscience program for histologymolecular biology, and microscopy.

To supplement the fundamental infrastructure financed directly by SISSA, the Cognitive Neuroscience faculty are committed to acquiring funding from prestigious granting agencies. Among the projects, running currently or within the last five years, are initiatives supported by the European Research Council (5 projects), European Commission consortium (3 projects), Human Frontier Science Program (3 projects), Italian Ministry for Research (3 projects), and many others. Winning projects like these in a tight competition are votes of confidence by the international neuroscience community.