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Research: University of Pisa discovers new visual area in brain 

Research: University of Pisa discovers new visual area in brain

Florence - Thanks to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the technique that has revolutionized human Neuroscience in the last 25 years, a team of Italian neuroscientists discovered a new visual area in the human brain. Headed by Kyriaki Mikellidou and Maria Concetta Morrone of the department of Translational Medicine of the University of Pisa, the research was published in the international 'Current Biology' review. The research analyses the properties or this area of the brain, known as prostriate, showing for the first time that its specialization is the analysis of fast moving objects at the edge of the field of vision. The research team also includes David Burr of the Neuroscience department of the University of Florence and Jan Kurzawski (Stella Maris Foundation and University of Florence). "The prostriate area is localized in a primitive part of the cerebral cortex and its peculiar characteristics differentiate it from all other visual areas we have discovered so far", Professor Morrone explains, "including a 'direct line of communication' between areas of the brain that control rapid emotions and motor reactions. Understanding how this area functions can have significant clinical implications. For example, some degenerations observed in the Alzheimer disease correspond anatomically to the prostriate area: these alterations could be contributing to the spacial disorientation and lack of balance that characterize the initial stages of this disease". Researchers were able to enjoy the support of Vincenzo Greco from the CNR Optics Department in Florence on this project. He designed and built a special device that stimulates wide areas of the visual field with high speed moving images.