Collaboration with the Memory Center of Lausanne University Hospital

© 2023 EPFL

© 2023 EPFL

We are happy to announce a new collaboration with Professor Gilles Allali and his team at the Memory Centre (Centre Leenards de la Memoire) of Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV). We have just successfully tested our first patient with Lewy Body dementia.

After the initial set-up and implementation of our robotic devices by Fosco Bernasconi and Anne Gao, the first patient was successfully tested and scanned at the CHUV, by Jevita Potheegadoo, Léa Duong Phan Thanh and Sara Stampacchia in March 2023! This ushers in the start of a promising new partnership between EPFL and Professor Gilles Allali’s team at the Memory Center (Centre Leenaards de la Mémoire) of the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV). The project’s mission is the pursuit of detecting early biomarkers of hallucinations/psychosis and cognitive decline/dementia in patients with Dementia with Lewy Body (DLB).

DLB is a debilitating and the second most frequent neurodegenerative cause of dementia, hallmarked by cognitive fluctuations, parkinsonism, and complex hallucinations (McKeith et al., 2017). Complex hallucinations are known to be often preceded by so-called minor hallucinations (MH), and it has been suggested that they constitute an early sign of the worse clinical outcomes. The feeling that someone is present while nobody is really there, also known as presence hallucination, is a common form of MH and has recently been investigated in patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders (e.g., see Bernasconi et al., 2021, 2022). This was enabled by our development of a robotic system that induce presence hallucinations under controlled laboratory conditions (Bernasconi, Blondiaux, et al., 2022). MHs and presence hallucinations are, however, completely unexplored in DLB. The Lausanne-based clinical study applies robotic testing, in parallel with the administration of neuropsychological tests, resting-state fMRI, and in depth clinical testing to study the trajectory of hallucinations and cognitive decline in DLB progression, and how DLB compares to Parkinson’s disease. The overall goal of the project is to establish new robotics-based biomarkers for DLB, leading to early diagnosis and guiding the choice for the most suitable care and treatment options.


This work is supported by :    

Fondazione Teofilo Rossi di Montelera e di Premuda

Gemeinnützige Stiftung Empiris


Bernasconi, F., Blondiaux, E., Potheegadoo, J., Stripeikyte, G., Pagonabarraga, J., Bejr-Kasem, H., Bassolino, M., Akselrod, M., Martinez-Horta, S., Sampedro, F., Hara, M., Horvath, J., Franza, M., Konik, S., Bereau, M., Ghika, J.-A., Burkhard, P. R., Van De Ville, D., Faivre, N., … Blanke, O. (2021). Robot-induced hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease depend on altered sensorimotor processing in fronto-temporal network. Science Translational Medicine, 13(591), eabc8362.

Bernasconi, F., Blondiaux, E., Rognini, G., Dhanis, H., Jenni, L., Potheegadoo, J., Hara, M., & Blanke, O. (2022). Neuroscience robotics for controlled induction and real-time assessment of hallucinations. Nature Protocols, 1–24.

Bernasconi, F., Pagonabarraga, J., Bejr-Kasem, H., Martinez-Horta, S., Kulisevsky, J., & Blanke, O. (2022). Theta oscillations and minor hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease reveal decrease in frontal lobe functions and later cognitive decline (p. 2022.11.24.517668). bioRxiv.

McKeith, I. G., Boeve, B. F., Dickson, D. W., Halliday, G., Taylor, J.-P., Weintraub, D., Aarsland, D., Galvin, J., Attems, J., Ballard, C. G., Bayston, A., Beach, T. G., Blanc, F., Bohnen, N., Bonanni, L., Bras, J., Brundin, P., Burn, D., Chen-Plotkin, A., … Kosaka, K. (2017). Diagnosis and management of dementia with Lewy bodies. Neurology, 89(1), 88–100.