|Research Area:||Cognitive Neuroscience|
|Phone or fax:||06 5150 1493|
Research interests. My main research interest and expertise concerns the neural basis of multisensory integration, space perception and attention. I have used several non-invasive brain imaging and behavioural techniques to investigate these processes in the human brain. These have included: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Event-related Brain Potentials (ERP), plus analyses of eye-movement patterns. Most recently, my research has focussed on neuroscientific issues about mapping specific multisensory processes to anatomically localised regions of the brain and the investigation of complex functional interactions between brain areas. To this end, I became skilled in analyses of functional and effective connectivity which permit studying of these inter-regional processes (e.g. Psycho-physiological Interactions and Dynamical Causal Modelling). Of particular interest to me are the dynamic interactions arising from the combination of top-down endogenous signals related to task and expectations, with bottom-up inputs triggered by the onset of (multisensory) stimuli in the external world. I have also used dual-task paradigms to investigate interactions between low-level and high-level processing. The aim of these paradigms is to engage high-level cortical areas using specific task manipulations (e.g. memory, attention, expectation), while measuring how other brain regions (e.g. lower-level sensory representations) respond to concurrent external stimuli. I believe that understanding the interplay between anatomically distinct brain areas will be critical to understand physiological mechanisms of selection and integration by the human brain.
Achievements track-record. I was awarded my PhD at University College London (UK) in 2000. After working as a PostDoc at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (London, UK), in 2004 I moved to the Fondazione Santa Lucia (Rome, IT). Here I set up the Neuroimaging Laboratory and in 2007 I was appointed Director of Laboratory. I am Author of more than fifty peer-reviewed scientific papers, including publications in high-impact factor journals such as Science (2 papers), Neuron (2 papers) and Current Biology (2 papers). I have also published important review papers (e.g. in Trends in Neuroscience), and I have co-authored several book chapters on attention and multisensory processing. I am Co-Editor of Experimental Brain Research, and Associate Editor of Neuroscience Letters and of Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. The impact my work has been recognised by the Federation of European Societies of Neuropsychology that awarded me with the Cortex Prize for young researcher of the year (2008). In 2010 I have been awarded an ERC Starting-Grant to investigate mechanisms of selection and integration in complex and dynamic multisensory environments.
Collaborations. Together with the main focus of my research on multisensory processing and attention, I also have several national and international collaborations. I carry out collaborative projects on multisensory processing with the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (London, UK), I lead a project on changes of interregional connectivity after stroke in collaboration with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH, Bethesda, US) and I collaborate with the Brain Research Institute (UCLA, US) on a project about parental empathy. I have also many collaborations at the national level in Italy, including projects on deductive reasoning (Università Milano - Bicocca); on visuo-spatial attention (Università di Verona); on aesthetic perception (Università di Parma); and on response selection in the language domain (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Trieste), plus many other collaborative projects with research groups based at Universities in Rome.
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