Research Projects

 

A Study of Intercultural Differences between Iranian and Swiss Participants in Terms of Cognitive Functions and Brain Relationships

 

·      Executive Director: Reza Rostami

·      Financial Sponsor: Cognitive Sciences & Technologies Institute

·  Contributors: Yuri Kropotov, Andreas Muller, Saeed Sanei, Reza Kazemi, Fatemeh Gholipour, Khadijeh Sadatnejad

·   Partner Institutions: University of Tehran, Amirkabir University of Technology, Atieh Derakhshan-e Zehn Group, HBImed AG

·    Project Status: Final report and relevant papers are being prepared (Estimated time of project completion: end of summer 2019)

Recent findings in cultural neuroscience indicate that values, teachings, and beliefs affect the neural pathways responsible for mental health and well-being. Cultural differences make changes in cognitive processes such as perception, attention, and memory. Most studies in the field of cultural neuroscience have focused on the comparison of Eastern countries such as Japan and South Korea with European and American countries. There are great cultural and religious differences between West Asian countries (e.g. Iran and Kuwait) and East Asian ones. For instance, there are different subcultures in Iran that differ in language, traditions, and customs such as Azeri, Kurd, Turkmen, Arab, and Baloch. Hence, this research project aimed to highlight differences between Iranian and Swiss people in cognitive functions and brain communications. 

It is necessary to develop a domestic database to improve the statistical analysis of brain signals and design advanced processing algorithms for the analysis of the data pertaining to patients with psychiatric disorders. Currently, the diagnosis and monitoring of cognitive signals and symptoms in Iran are done by using the tools and algorithms developed through a database of foreign patients. All subcultures should be taken into account in the development of a domestic database. Although the development of a domestic database is costly, differences between Iranian and Western patients need to be carefully extracted in order to provide more effective treatments for Iranian patients.

In this research project, EEG and ERP data were collected from 500 Iranian and European patients in Iran and Switzerland. The data were collected from patients aged 18- 80 with normal IQs. The exclusion criteria were substance abuse, head injury, and affliction with mental or neurological disorders. The Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R) and Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) were employed to measure mental health and IQ, respectively. After the questionnaires were filled out, resting EEG signals were recorded with eyes open and then shut in a relatively 1-hour session. In addition, EEG signals were recorded when a patient was performing a visual continuous performance task (VCPT), lasting nearly 12 minutes.

·         Publications: Sadatnejad, K., Rahmati, M., Rostami, R., Kazemi, R., Ghidary, S. S., Müller, A., & Alimardani, F. (2019). EEG representation using a multi-instance framework on the manifold of symmetric positive definite matrices Journal of neural engineering, 16(3), 03601.

 

  The Effects of Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) Combined with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Improvement of Speech Fluency in Adult Stutterers

 

·       Executive Director: Dr. Reyhaneh Mohammadi, Dr. Reza Rostami, Narges Moin

·       Financial Sponsor: Iran University of Medical Sciences

·       Contributors: Dr. Reza Zomorodi, Prof. Michael Nietsche, Dr. Abbasali Keshtkar

·      Project Status: Sampling and data collection (Estimated time of project completion: End of summer 2020)

Stuttering is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words, or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. The prevalence of stuttering is 5% in children and 1% in adults. Different treatments have been proposed for stuttering based on various theories about this disorder. Some effective complementary therapies have been recently developed to treat stuttering by targeting the basic and underlying brain defects in stutters. One of these therapies is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Based on recent studies on stuttering, tDCS is expected to reduce the duration and increase the durability of treatments. Therefore, this research project aims to analyze the effects of DAF combined with tDCS on the improvement of speech fluency in adult stutters. This study will be conducted on 50 stuttering adults, all of whom will participate in 9 intervention sessions (including 6 treatment sessions and 3 pre- and post-treatment evaluation sessions). The percent syllables stuttered (%SS), Stuttering Severity Instrument–Fourth Edition (SSI-4), and Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience of Stuttering (OASES) will be employed to measure pre-intervention severity of stuttering. After completing the initial evaluations, every stutterer will participate in 6 treatment sessions. The content of treatment sessions on the improvement of speech fluency will be the same in the intervention and control group. DAF will be used as a method to increase speech fluency. As speech fluency is improving, the superior temporal gyrus (STG), which is named T3 according to the international 10–20 system, in stutterers of the intervention group will be stimulated by a tDCS device (NeuroConn). Those in the control group will receive sham stimulation in the same area of the brain. As previously mentioned, post-treatment evaluations will be repeated one and six weeks after the last sessions.

 

 Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and emotion processing and regulation with regard to the role of adult attachment

 

·         Executive Director: Abed Hadipour, Dr. Reza Kazemi, Dr. Javad Hatami

·         Financial Sponsor: Atieh Derakhshan-e Zehn Group

·         Contributors: Dr. Pascal Vertica, Max Planck Society

·         Project Status: Preparation of the initial draft of papers

 

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a neurophysiological tool for altering cortical excitability that is widely used in the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Low-frequency brain stimulation reduces cortical excitability, whereas high-frequency brain stimulation increases cortical excitability. rTMS can affect the activity of the lower layers of the brain by making neural connections between them and the cortical surface. This process is influenced by frequency, duration of stimulation, intensity of stimulation, and the total number of pulses applied to the brain. The low-frequency stimulation of the prefrontal-limbic circuitry, which is involved in emotion regulation, is expected to have inhibitory effects on DLPFC, increase the limbic activity, and finally lead to more emotional reactions. The high-frequency stimulation is expected to have reverse results. However, previous studies have reported contradictory results in this regard.

The findings of a study conducted by Vertica et al. (2012) on fMRI indicate that there is a significant relationship between the activity of the right amygdala in individuals with higher anxiety scores when looking at images with unpleasant contents and the activity of that area of the brain.  This can be a reliable basis for the present research and the high-frequency of DLPFC to affect the amygdala (possibly inhibit activity) and then to measure the behavioral and physiological aspects of these effects.