Drawn by the level of research and the type of facilities available at HSE University, Matteo Feurra joined the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making in 2014. He is now managing a research group and teaching several courses in neuroscience. In his interview Mr Feurra reflects back on his time in Moscow and talks about his research.
In 2014, I was looking for a higher position abroad and I noticed an ad for a position at HSE University in Moscow. When I looked at the ad, I was pleasantly surprised to see that HSE had a neuroscience centre (Centre for Cognition & Decision Making, CDM) with advanced equipment for neuroscience research.
I could not believe how many facilities and new devices were available. So, I explored the research that was going on there and who was leading the Centre—Anna Shestakova and Vasily Klucharev. I saw that high-level scientists were working there. They did an amazing job with the Centre and with the recent creation of the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience. Therefore, I decided to apply.
I am very satisfied with these seven years in Moscow. I learned and I am still learning how to manage a research group and I learned to productively commit to my responsibilities as teacher and supervisor of students. I currently teach Advanced Neuroimaging and Cognitive Neuroscience at Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience. I have also been able to keep publishing in international high-level peer-reviewed journals and to transform my scientific productivity towards a better quality/quantity ratio.
I love to work on motor control processes by using brain stimulation. I am an expert in brain stimulation techniques. Basically, I use specific devices that are able to deliver electrical and magnetic fields to the brain. It is noninvasive and painless technique.
By using noninvasive brain stimulation technique, it is possible to investigate the relationship between specific brain regions and their function. I can stimulate the motor cortex and measure the human physiological and behavioral response. By doing that, I can observe changes in the brain during motor tasks such as imagination of a movement, motor learning task and observation of a movement, the so-called mirror neurons effect.
My dream project is to use brain stimulation and other electrophysiological techniques (EEG, motion tracking system) to investigate the brain activity on sport activities and to investigate brain processes during a switch from a dairy/animal-based to a vegetarian/vegan plant-based diet and its impact on health and sport activities.
As a foreigner I am still struggling with bureaucracy, for example, issues such as visa documents, paperwork, forms, medical insurance etc., even despite all the great support from HSE University.
However, living in Moscow is amazing. Moscow is a beautiful city full of art and events. After seven years, every time I go out of my house I look around and I am still amazed by the beauty and the diversity of the architecture.
It is stunning how much the city blends together classic and modern style. It is technological advanced by still keeps a classic style. And Russia in general is a beautiful country full of diversities in terms of landscapes and nature.