Pierre Progin receives the Incentive Frutiger prize

© 2022 EPFL

© 2022 EPFL

The Frutiger Foundation rewards research in neuropsychiatry and neuropsychology. The study was conducted by researchers from the Department of Psychiatry of the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) and the Blanke Lab at EPFL.

This study conducted at CHUV Department of Psychiatry and published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin (Salomon, Progin et al., Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2020) focuses on psychotic symptoms called passivity experiences and especially auditory verbal hallucinations, considered a hallmark of schizophrenia and related psychiatric conditions. The work was based on recent advances in cognitive neuroscience, sensorimotor processing, and robotics enabling the investigation and induction of specific psychotic symptoms under controlled conditions (i.e., Fletcher & Frith, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2009).

Based on sensorimotor models and prediction errors, we have developed with Roy Salomon, Pierre Progin, and Philippe Conus a procedure with a robotic device that allows manipulating prediction errors on a controlled way (Bernasconi et al., Nature Protocols 2022). The Frutiger Incentive award to Pierre Progin was based on a research project that has applied this procedure in a large group of young psychiatric patients, with a single psychotic episode. The data show that exposure to conflicting robotically-controlled stimulation does induce passivity experiences and, importantly, specific errors in a voice recognition task, revealing alterations of voice processing regions involved in auditory verbal hallucinations. This was only found in those patients who had previously experienced at least one passivity experience (Salomon, Progin et al., Schizophrenia Bulletin 2020).

Related work from the Lab has also applied the method to the induction of auditory verbal hallucinations in healthy individuals (Orepic et al., Schizophrenia Research, 2021) to thought insertion (Serino et al., iScience, 2021). Current work assesses whether an individual’s sensitivity to the robotic manipulation varies according to the different stages of the disease and whether the sensitivity can be an indicator of the risk of developing schizophrenia, leading to improved diagnostics and monitoring, as well as the planning of early intervention to prevent future psychotic episodes.


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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-022-00737-z

Fletcher, P. C., & Frith, C. D. (2009). Perceiving is believing: A Bayesian approach to explaining the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10(1), 48–58. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2536

Orepic, P., Rognini, G., Kannape, O. A., Faivre, N., & Blanke, O. (2021). Sensorimotor conflicts induce somatic passivity and louden quiet voices in healthy listeners. Schizophrenia Research, 231, 170–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2021.03.014

Salomon, R., Progin, P., Griffa, A., Rognini, G., Do, K. Q., Conus, P., Marchesotti, S., Bernasconi, F., Hagmann, P., Serino, A., & Blanke, O. (2020). Sensorimotor Induction of Auditory Misattribution in Early Psychosis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 46(4), 947–954. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbz136

Serino, A., Pozeg, P., Bernasconi, F., Solcà, M., Hara, M., Progin, P., Stripeikyte, G., Dhanis, H., Salomon, R., Bleuler, H., Rognini, G., & Blanke, O. (2021). Thought consciousness and source monitoring depend on robotically controlled sensorimotor conflicts and illusory states. IScience, 24(1), 101955. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101955