Unit of Messina


Unit of Messina

The research activities of the unit located in Messina concern the intelligent systems for health involving artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and bioengineering applied to neuroscience. The aim is to develop a new generation of technologies, methods and therapeutic approaches that will improve the knowledge of the underlying causes and biological mechanisms of a disease, and address its treatment, as well as modulate and manage its progression. The focus is on neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular autism spectrum disorders, but the methods and technologies are adaptable to other pathologies.isasi messina


In addition, the unit develops biomedical sensors and micro-systems, whether they need to be multi-parametric, pervasive, ergonomic, portable, wireless, unobtrusive wearable and able to monitor physiological, behavioural, emotional and environmental parameters; models and technological tools for intelligent processing of biomedical signal using advanced methods of signal processing algorithms and deep learning strategies to extract physiological and psycho-physiological information.





Intelligent systems for autism research


The research activities on autism concern the study and development of new methodologies and technologies that could help recognizing, evaluating and treating autism to allow to limit, at the same time, the effects of cognitive, communication and social deficits.

Nowadays high-tech devices are such an essential part of our everyday life that they can be considered for use in the upcoming research development and treatment of autism. As revealed by the significant growth of studies published in the last few years, technologies produce many benefits and have the extraordinary potential to create real innovation. Intelligent systems can be useful tools to gather new information on diagnosis and functional evaluation, or as new habilitation tools, or they can help the family gaining new knowledge on the disorder and carrying out a habilitation approach at home.

The Isasi-Cnr group has two main research goals: the first one is to develop an ecological system of personalized neurophysiological and behavioural evaluation through non-invasive measurement and analysis tools incorporated in a reproduction of the domestic environment called HomeLab; the second goal aims to develop personalized intervention programs based on relationship and social interaction through serious games, social robots and cognitive behavioural activities, designed to enable the transfer of the acquired skills in real environments. In light of recent research findings, serious games and robots are very useful in motivating and strengthening the interpretation of the physical world and in stimulating new opportunities to use the competences acquired in different environments, encouraging the transfer and generalisation of these competences.

The HomeLab is made up of structures that simulate the actual domestic environment and host the whole family to evaluate the behavioural and physiological signs of the autism disorder as well as the parent-child interaction, through various tools like eye and body trackers and wearable measurement systems, that disappear in the environment without interfering with the relational dynamics of child and family. All this is designed to identify, suggest and enhance the best treatment strategies, highlighting the most adequate responses to non-verbal and verbal contextual signs, following a new treatment model mediated by parents and by tele-habilitation technologies.

The habilitation strategy is made of a mixed model based on activities with serious games and humanoid robots, cognitive behavioural activities, and on the study of the generalisation of competences in relation to the treatment’s effects that occur during the treatment itself that can lead to improvements that can be measured both in standardized tests and in interaction abilities in real life context. It includes short term, medium term and long-term goals, motivation, gratification and feedback, designed to fit the individual and with the level of complexity increasing as the treatment advances. This strategy is also based on cooperative multi-user games whose aim is to increase the effectiveness of interpersonal interactions and to simplify the transfer of the knowledge and competences acquired during the treatment to ecologically valid social situations.




Active projects


The HomeLab concept: a Lab able to simulate a child home environment while embodying disappearing technology (eye and body tracker, qEEG, serious games, robotics) to ecologically quantify physiological and behavioural variables, coach parents and apply personalized treatment.



– HEARTMAN – PHC-28-2015 – Call: H2020-PHC-2015-single-stage – Number: 689660 – 1 Jan 2016 – 31 Dec 2018

The HeartMan project will develop a personal health system to help congestive heart failure (CHF) patients manage their disease.




– NIDA – ITALIAN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS NETWORK coordinated by the Italian National Institute of Health







– SMART@PP – Piattaforma di Screening Mobile per l’Analisi del Rischio di disagi della comunicazione tramite nuove Tecnologie. Funded by Fondazione Telecom Italia.

– DISLESSIA ON–LINE – Screening e recupero delle difficoltà di lettura. Funded by Fondazione Telecom Italia.

– MIUR – NETWORK PROGRAM NET-2013-02356160 – Pediatric ataxias and Public Health

– INEED (Italian Network for Early detection and Early intervention in Developmental disabilities): Alliance for best practice in early detection of cerebral palsy. Funded by Fondazione Pierfranco e Luisa Mariani.

– PRIORITARIO – Piattaforma per l’implementazione, la gestione e l’integrazione distribuita di servizi, dati, modelli e strumenti innovativi di screening precoce, analisi, personalizzazione e monitoraggio dei disturbi del neurosviluppo – PON PAC02L1_00247.

– TODDLERS – Early detection in autism spectrum conditions – MIUR GR-2010-2319668.



Via Torre Bianca – Istituto Marino Pad. 4
Mortelle, Messina, Italy



Responsible: Giovanni Pioggia – g.pioggia@isasi.cnr.it
Administration: Sergio Baluci – s.baluci@isasi.cnr.it