My project aims to understand how we predict our conspecifics actions and behavior. When we observe someone performing an action, we rarely experience surprise. However, sometimes some actions can be more unpredictable than others are and leave us puzzled. My goal is to understand the neural basis of this social dynamic.
The core of my study is to see whether and how people’s correct and wrong prediction affects the elaboration of visual stimuli and upcoming situations and when and where in the brain this prediction error takes place.
To achieve these aims I am using and combining different methods, such as behavioral, EEG, eye tracking and neuroimaging.
I completed my PhD in Rome (IT) in Prof. Francesco Di Russo’s lab defending my thesis (Neural basis of motor planning for object-oriented actions: the role of kinematics and cognitive aspects) in 2013. My doctoral research focused on movement control and examined the motor preparation for object-oriented actions, both executed and observed, with the use of the electroenchephalography (EEG). Three main publications came out from my PhD project with additional papers resulting from other collaborations with the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome.
I started my first postdoc in 2012 at the Italian Institute of Technology in Prof. Fulvio Domini’s lab. Here, I have extended my knowledge on psychophysics and cognitive science applied to grasping movements. My project investigated the relationship between perception and action and specifically I used the analysis of the kinematics of the action as an indirect measurement of visual perception accuracy.
My education was further enriched by periods of study abroad. As an undergraduate, I participated in the Erasmus program and spent eight months at the University of Tübingen, Germany. I have also completed my PhD abroad at the University of California, San Diego, where I spent 12 months as visiting researcher, funded by the Fulbright scholarship. Here I worked at the ERP Lab headed by Prof. Steve Hillyard, where I trained my methodological skills. In the last year of my postdoc, I initiated a collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam working in the Jeroen Smeets and Eli Brenner’s lab where I studied the contribution of visual feedback to grasping movement.
Currently, I am carrying out my new project on social cognition at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. Funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowship, I am applying my knowledge on motor preparation to the study of social interaction with the use of EEG and fMRI techniques.