1995 Degree (MS) in Experimental Psychology, University of Padova, Italy

2000 Ph.D. in Cognitive Science (Thesis title: Visual selective attention: saliency, focusing and change blindness), University of Padova, Italy

2001 Post-doc awarded by MURST at the Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Italy

Academic career and teaching activities

1996-2000 Phd student, Department of General Psychology, University of Padova

1998-1999 Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, London, UK

2002-2006 Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Italy

2006-present Full Professor of Experimental Psychology, Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Italy

Research interests

My research interests are the following:

1) How we learn to ignore irrelevant stimuli

2) The interaction between attention and motivation

Research work

Habituation: Learning to ignore the irrelevant information
The capacity to overcome distraction is a key feature of a cognitive system that must ensure an efficient interaction with the surrounding environment, but the underlying psychological and neural mechanisms remain elusive. The aim of this line of research is to study the cognitive mechanisms underlying distractor filtering, and to show that our brain can capitalize on habituation, an ancestral form of learning that we share with other sub-human animals, to learn to ignore the distracting stimulation.

Motivational and attentional salience
The aim of this project is to understand the conditioning mechanisms by means of which initially neutral stimuli can acquire attentional and motivation salience when systematically paired with appetitive or aversive stimuli. Our recent studies show that once a reward-predicting stimulus has gained attentional salience, this attentional priority outlasts reward devaluation, thus making the conditioned stimulus autonomous in guiding the explorative behavior of the organism. Understanding these cognitive processes may have important implication for our understanding of the psychological mechanisms involved in different forms of addiction.