Two themes are investigated in our laboratory:

The first one deals with cognitive processing on human communication: language and social cognition. The second one is a transverse / cross disciplinary research about restoring cerebral tissues by innovative therapies like cells grafts.

The originality of the team rests on the convergence between clinical research on innovative therapies and fundamental research on cognition. Thus, allowing an insight from degenerative as well as from restorative and cerebral plasticity perspective, to improve treatment and care of patients affected by degenerative diseases, especially Huntington Disease.

NPI activity stands against/relies on the national reference centre for Huntington disease (AP-HP ; Henri Mondor Hospital ; Creteil)

The NPI threefold approach :

1. Healthy adult experimentation, in order to propose normal working models of language and social cognition.

2. Assessment of language and social cognition in cerebral damaged adults or suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington disease and Parkinson disease.

3. Application of innovative therapies (neurones grafts, gene therapies) to restore cognitive functions and understand/assess functional processes of reparation.

NPI is linking biological skills (research in bio-markers; imaging: ERP, PET scan, genetics) and behavioural research (experimental psychology) thanks to collaboration with CEA and IHU-A-ICM.

During the 2007-2012 period of the last 4-year plan, NPI team has:

- shown that striatum plays a major role in linguistic processing, especially for syntax, morphology and language learning.

- established behavioural and neural bases of a new social cognition model which consider relationship between the first person “I” and the second person “you” about the third person “he, she, or it”.

- allowed neuronal grafts for 45 patients affected by Huntington disease by coordinating the multicentric intracerebral grafting in Huntington’s disease trial/ assay.

- created new computerized assessment tools in the field of cognition for patients affected by Huntington and other degenerative diseases.

Expectations:

Our researches aim at improving understanding of cognitive disorders of Huntington disease and solving them.

They will allow to establish links between language, social cognition and other cognitive functions.

Our double expertise in fundamental cognition and biotherapies will allow us:
- the development of new tests for the evaluation of the effectiveness/efficiency of therapeutic interventions in Huntington disease.
- the knowledge improvement in cognition through biotherapies and cerebral reconstruction.

Our research will ultimately contribute to the discovery of new therapeutic treatments as well as to the optimization of intracerebral grafts aimed at stopping the evolution of the disease

Valuable activities:

With the collaboration of the LSCP, the NPI has developed a screening test of cognitive functions disorders, the Cog RT kit, which should be able to be applied to different populations of patients. Its configuration is ongoing, an APP INSERM Transfer has been obtained in 2008. This test is the first one of an array of computerized tests intended for screening, longitudinal follow-up in therapeutic trials, and rehabilitation of patients. Our goal is to switch gradually from experimental psychological tests to video games / virtual reality which can reach a large public beyond the strictly medical frame using however medical concepts of rehabilitation.
We have set up a testing platform/facility for patients (death room; computers, “eye tracker”, ERP portable device).

Patents

1. De Diego Balaguer, Dupoux E, Bachoud-Lévi AC . CogRT-kit: Brief test for complete cognitive neuropsychological assessment 20/08/2008 French APP deposit (IDDN.FR.001.340011.000.S.P.2008.000.31230).