Ph.D. Thesis Defense - Romain Aubonnet

Title: Development of tools and paradigms to assess brain cortical activity during cognitive tasks

  • 9.12.2022, 11:00 - 12:00

Thesis Committee:

Paolo Gargiulo, Reykjavík University
Mahmoud Hassan, University of Rennes
Erna Sif Arnardóttir, Reykjavík University

Prof. Luigi Bianchi, Associate Professor, at the Tor Vergata, University of Rome


Monitoring brain cortical activity is essential to decipher and understand neurophysiological behaviour.

A wide amount of tools and experimental setups has been developed to stimulate, record and analyze brain activity.

The identification of quantitative metrics to assess this activity during specific tasks remains an essential requirement, as it could lead to improve diagnostics, describe objectively self-assessed condition, or track variation during long-term studies.

This thesis introduces the development of tools and paradigms to assess brain cortical activity during cognitive tasks. It introduces a complete set of analyses based on EEG signals, under two main scopes, schizophrenia and postural control.

The first part of the work evaluates the impact of a potential therapeutic solution for patients with schizophrenia. A longitudinal study case is introduced, where psychometrics data are compared with three types of analysis from EEG data: temporal, spectral and connectivity. The small sample size prevents us to draw definitive conclusion, however, this work reveals the interest to use EEG-based metrics to complete the standard psychometrics assessment.

The second part of the work focuses on postural control, using a novel measurement setup, called BioVRSea, combining virtual reality and a moving platform. The brain cortical activity of more than 150 healthy individuals have been investigated during this experiment. A robust neurophysiological reference has been identified using power spectral density. Moreover, combining brain connectivity and microstate segmentation, network dynamics reveal a coherent brain remodeling throughout the acquisition, strengthening our current knowledge regarding complex postural control.

The current work highlights the concrete benefit of using EEG signal to decipher brain cortical activity. The tools developed in this thesis are of interest to build a neurophysiological signature of specific cognitive tasks, that will be crucial for a further understanding of neurodegenerative disease.

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