MAUDE: […] What flower would you like to be?
HAROLD: I don’t know. One of these maybe?
MAUDE: Why do you say that?
HAROLD: Because they are all alike..
MAUDE: Oooh, but they are not. Look. See – some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals – all kinds of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are this, and allow themselves to be treated as that…
[Harold and Maude, 1971]
My research interest mainly concerns the way in which the environment (in particular, parental and early-life environment) influences neurodevelopmental trajectories, contributing to inter-individual differences.
My theoretical education started in 2009, studying Developmental Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome. After graduating in Psychological Sciences in 2011, I was fascinated by the neurobiological aspects of development and cognition. Therefore, I started a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychological Rehabilitation (Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome) and joining the Experimental and Behavioral Neurophysiology Lab at the Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare Santa Lucia Foundation (Rome, Italy). There I took my first step in a laboratory, combining behavioral and immunohistochemical techniques to investigate the intergenerational effects of environmental enrichment on the stress response in rats, under the supervision of Laura Petrosini.
In 2015, I started a PhD Program in Behavioral Neuroscience (Psychopharmacology and Psychobiology) at Sapienza University focusing on spontaneous inter-individual differences in approaching/avoidance phenotypes and their transmission in mice.
In parallel, I continued nourishing interest in risk and protective factors that could hinder or promote a normative development from a psychological perspective, obtaining in 2017 the qualification to Psychologist practice.
I received my PhD in February 2019. In May, I moved to Amsterdam for my first post-doc. I currently work at the Social Brain Lab (NIN) with Valeria Gazzola and Christian Keysers and at the Structural and Functional Plasticity of the nervous system Lab (University of Amsterdam) with Harm Krugers, focusing on early-life conditions that can account for inter-individual differences in empathy-like and prosocial behaviors in rodents.