The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow stated that when all you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail to beat.
At Umana Analytics, this is one of our mottos. We have access to the widest range of tools and expertise available on the market, which we adapt to meet the actual needs of our partners.
The same applies to the wide range of multidisciplinary scientific expertise that allows us to develop "tailor-made" research in different, interdisciplinary fields.
This software allows to record the movement of the mouse during both an experimental setting or free exploration of a graphical interface, returning information about the position of the mouse and the relative interaction times with respect to the areas of interest.
Our systems allow us to return maps of interest and records all the movement trajectories, allowing also a post-hoc analysis of the recordings.
Eye-tracking is a technology that uses a system of infrared cameras to observe and track the movements of the pupils and understand where they are addressed in a picture, a video, or even a real scenario. To increase the ecology of our experiments we employ Tobii Pro Glasses 2, handy and portable glasses that eliminate postural constraints and are easily adapted to all kind of laboratory, experimental settings.
This system consists of a device that detects the amount and direction of impressed force during a given task, and a software that, after encoding the input signals, returns a visual feedback on the screen. The system allows to provide a real-time feedback to compare the ideal force level and the one actually applied. The principle on which this tool is based is the bio-feedback.
PRAAT is a tool for the prosodic analysis, i.e. the "acoustic" components of spoken language (intonation, duration, accent).
This software allows the acquisition, storage and analysis of verbal acoustic signals, and provides numerical data with the possibility of objective evaluation of vocal characteristics.
Among the most important functions of prosodic indices there is the paralinguistic one, which allows the transmission of information concerning the emotions and the mood of the speaker. Numerous researches have investigated differences in the vocal expression of different emotions and have confirmed the importance of prosodic factors as a powerful indicator of the level of physiological activation.
FaceReader is a software for the recognition and analysis of facial expressions. Starting from the classification system described by Ekman, and relying on a classification system based on deep learning, the software is able to recognize basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust and neutral), as well as contempt, interest and boredom.
To do so, it identifies the faces within the images and extrapolates a three-dimensional model based on 500 key points, which allows tracking the movements of facial muscles on which to base the classification of expressions. Recognition can take place either in real-time, through the use of a webcam connected to the laptop, or offline on previously recorded audio and video material.
fMRI stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging, a technique that allows to study the activity of the brain "in vivo," while performing a given task.
fMRI allows for the identification of brain areas that are activated in response to specific stimuli, due to its ability to measure changes in oxygenation of hemoglobin that flows to a specific brain area or region of interest when exposed to a specific stimulus.
The main feature of this technique is a high and accurate spatial resolution, but with a limited temporal resolution (compared, for example, to other techniques adopted in neuromarketing that allow to record neural events in terms of milliseconds, such as EEG).
NIRS stands for Near Infrared Spectroscopy.
It is a technique that, like fMRI, leverages the different properties of oxygenated and non-oxygenated hemoglobin.
In this case, however, the instrument uses an infrared emission technology, rather than an MRI one. Compared to fMRI, NIRS is cheaper, more portable and allows a more flexible use. In fact, while fMRI is strongly affected by the movements that take place inside the scanner, NIRS, being mainly composed of a headset with integrated sensors that is applied directly on the participant's head, does not suffer from this limitation. On the other hand, NIRS, unlike fMRI, does not allow to perform an assessment of deeper brain structures, has a lower signal-to-noise ratio and lower spatial resolution.
The electroencephalogram allows to study the cortical brain activity by detecting the electric fields generated by the electric activity of cerebral cortical neurons near the scalp.
The detection of variations in electrical potential is recorded through sensors applied to a headset that participants can wear as an helmet, or rather as a bonnet.
The main feature of this technique is its high temporal resolution (in the millisecond range). Compared to other tools that allow greater spatial accuracy, EEG is more flexible: it can be used outside the Lab and is thus adaptable even in real scenarios, e.g. when browsing supermarket shelves.
Electromyography is based on a principle similar to that of the EEG. It employs sensors directly placed on the muscle bundle we want to study.
Such sensors detect the change in electrical potential of motor neurons. It allows the detection of micro changes in muscle tension (e.g., involuntary contractions) even in the absence of movement.
The e-nose is a technology that replicates the human olfactory system and is used to verify the quality of odours. The e-nose collects information acquired by a series of sensors that is converted into digital format and processed by special algorithms.
Such algorithms are based on pattern recognition and recreate the olfactory map allowing both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Usually, an electronic nose consists of an aspiration system, a number of gas sensors, and two subsystems: one for acquisition and digitization, and one for information processing capable of implementing appropriate classification or regression algorithms.
When we talk about (neuro)biofeedback, we are actually referring to a set of techniques that enable a person to become aware of and able to regulate psychophysiological functions that are outside of voluntary control, such as skin conductance and temperature, muscle tension, brainwave activity, psychogalvanic response, blood pressure and heart rate. The aim of (neuro)biofeedback training is to improve well-being and psychophysical performance and to learn how to cope better with stress. Also known as augmented proprioception, biofeedback enables the subject to become more aware of their internal states and subsequently improve their ability to self-control and self-regulate.
In the case of biofeedback, a suite of sensors detects and measures changes in the psychophysiological processes we want to modify and control. This data is processed, transformed into clear and understandable representations (usually visual or auditory), and presented to the participant in the form of real-time feedback. In this way, the participant gains an immediate perception of psychophysiological changes that would otherwise be outside of his or her proprioception.
By providing information about what is happening inside one's body, biofeedback allows people to learn to self-regulate and control it in the desired direction. So, biofeedback differs from a simple psychophysiological assessment, because the data is provided to the person themself, closing the loop of action and allowing the learning of self-regulation and modulation of operating parameters.
Il Neurofeedback is a specific type of biofeedback, based on neural activity measurement..
Brain functioning is monitored and presented to the participant in real time, to facilitate learning about the self-regulation of the neural substrates of the cognitive and behavioral processes to be modeled. Using neuroimaging techniques such as EEG, fMRI and fNIRS, a detailed map of the individual's neural functioning is obtained, along with the profile of reactions in specific tasks, designed to evoke various aspects of mental performance. Based on the participants' needs, a specific training protocol is then developed to help them learn how to model their neural functioning to enhance the desired abilities.