Research Topics


Research interests focus on the psychological and neural processes underlying:

  • normal and abnormal functioning of social interactions, empathy and personality
  • neural basis of corporeal awareness in healthy and brain damaged patients
  • sensorimotor processing in expert brains including elite athletes and musicians
  • voluntary action and bodily sensations in healthy humans and brain damaged patients.

Personality and neural foundations of ideological divide (Liuzza et al, Plos One, 2011) of group distinction (Avenanti et al, 2010), of social decision making (Panasiti et al, 2011; Mancini et al, PLOS One, 2011).

Neural Basis of the Empathic Processes of Other’s Pain. This line of research aims to assess the hypothesis that there might exist a specific processing system for understanding others’ pain. This research is carried out in neurotypical people (Bufalari et al, 2007) and in individuals with Asperger Syndrome and with Williams(Minio-Paluello et al, Biological Psychiatry, 2008).

Behavioral and lesion studies of corporeal awareness. This line of research explores the neural basis of corporeal awareness in healthy subjects (Urgesi et al, Nature Neuroscience, 2007; Candidi et al, Social Neuroscience 2008) and in people with brain damage (Moro et al, Neuron, 2008).

Neural Correlates of Excellence in Sports. This line of Research assesses the relation between domain-specific observation and the capacity to attain high executive and strategic standards in the observed domain(Fourkas et al, Cerebral Cortex, 2007; Aglioti et al, Nature Neuroscience, 2008).

Shared Attention and Social Communication. This line of research explores how specific behaviors (e.g. eye gaze, pointing) influence con-specifics. This research is carried out in subjects without pathology and in subjects with possible alteration of the empathic processes. Moreover, this paradigm is currently being used in my lab to explore the relationship between joint attention, personality, and political preferences(neuro-politics for short) (Crostella et al, Experimental Brain Research, 2009; Liuzza et al, 2011).

Neural Basis of Imitative Processes in Neurotypicals and Brain Lesioned Participants. This line of research has the aim to assess the hypothesis that there might be a specific processing system for recognizing motor actions. This investigation is conducted with Neurotypicals using TMS (Urgesi et al, Nature Neuroscience, 2007; Candidi et al, Social Neuroscience, 2008) and in brain-lesioned participants using behavioral tasks and lesion mapping procedures(Pazzaglia et al, Journal of Neuroscience, 2008; Pazzaglia et al, Current Biology, 2008; Nelissen et al 2010).

Visual and Multimodal Mental Images. The aim of this project is to study the neurocognitive systems involved in the generation of schematic and complex mental images. Also, we also aim to set up adequate instruments for the analysis of brain lesion-induced imaginative deficits (Moro et al, Neurocase, 2008, Ionta et al, Experimental Brain research, 2007; Ionta et al, Behavioural Brain Research, 2010).

Bodily illusions and self-other distinction. The research line aims at exploring the ability of human beings to recognize one’s own body in healthy subjects. Using a novel approach we demonstrated that even the fundamental ability of self-face recognition may be challenged in healthy humans by using the simple psychophysics visuo-tactile procedures we used for non-facial body parts (Bosbach et al, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 2009). Bodily illusions in healthy subjects and bodily delusions in brain damaged patients are also investigated. EEG, LEPs, SEPs and behavioral techniques are used for these studies.

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