Orsola Rosa Salva

P.zza Manifattura, 1 - 38068 Rovereto
tel. 0464 808106
orsola.rosasalva[at]unitn [dot] it
Formazione

March 2010: On the 30th March 2010 discuss her PhD thesis titled: “Early predispositions for social stimuli: the case of face perception. Perceptual properties underling face preferences in domestic chicks (Gallus gallus domesticus)”.

 

March 2008-May 2008: Spend three months at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive  Development, Birkbeck College, University of London, studying and conducting research under the supervision of Prof. Mark Johnson. Research conducted involves investigation of the neural basis of early social competences in human infants.

 

Jan 2007- Dec 2009: PhD program in perception and psychophysics (under the supervision of Prof. Lucia Regolin) at the General Psychology Department, University of Padova. 

 

Sep 2004- June 2006: Advanced degree in Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology (110 cum laude / 110) Faculty of Psychology, Padova University, Italy.
Thesis: "Lateralisation in the response to gaze direction in chicks".

 

Sep 2001-Sep 2004: First degree in Psychobiology and Cognitive Psychology (110 cum laude / 110) Faculty of Psychology, Padova University, Italy.
Thesis: Neural Basis of orienting processes in the delayed response task in the domestic chick: Use of spatial and local cues (Original title: "Basi psicobiologiche dei processi di orientamento nel compito di risposta ritardata in Gallus Gallus: Uso di indizi spaziali ed oggettuali").

Carriera accademica ed attività didattica

June 2010 - present: Post-doc positions at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, Rovereto (University of Trento), under the supervision of Prof. Giorgio Vallortigara.

Jan 2007 – June 2010: PhD Research contract at the Department of General Psychology. Grant from the European research project Evolution and Development of Cognitive, Behavioural and Neural Lateralisation.

Sep 2006 – Nov 2006: Post-degree scolarship on comparative perception (title of the project “Percezione dei margini a partire da stimoli statici ed impoveriti nel pucino di pollo domestico, funded by PRIN Project 2005)”, Department of General Psychology, Padova University, Italy.

Teaching experiences:

Takes part in “Animal Cognition” lessons (topic of the lesson: “Lateralization in gaze perception”) at University of Trieste, Dept. of Psychology (2007).

Takes part in “Animal Compared Psychology” lessons (topic of the lessons: “Preferences for faces in human newborns and domestic chicks”; “Social learning in chicks”; “Test of spontaneous preferences in domestic chicks”; “Face perception a study on naïve subjects”; “Passive avoidance learning in the chick”; “The spontaneous preference test and the study of innate social competences”; “Social communication in animal species”) at University of Padova, Faculty of Psychology (2007; 2008; 2009). 

Gives 4 hours of supervised lessons on the psychobiology of attentional and memory functions, within the course of “Psychobiolgy”, University of Padova, Faculty of Psychology (2011). 

Gives 6 hours of supervised lesson on the use of animal model to investigate early social competences, within the course of Animal models, University of Trento (2011).

Gives 15 hours of lessons (2 cfu) for the course of “Animal Compared Psychology”, University of Padova, Faculty of Psychology (2012).

Gives 20 hours of lesson for the course of “Fundaments of Neuroscience”, University of Trento, Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences (2013).

 

Interessi di ricerca

In human adults, an object can create the subjective perceptual impression of being alive, based solely on its individual pattern of movement. Motion cues that imply the presence of an internal energy source are of particular relevance for animacy perception, since a distinctive property of animate creatures is that they can independently from gravity and from the action of external forces. Sensitivity to one of such properties, namely self-propelledness, is present in human infants from the fifth month of age. It has been recently demonstrated that also naïve domestic chicks, presented with objects exhibiting motion either self-produced or caused by physical contact, prefer to associate with self-propelled objects (Mascalzoni et al. 2010 PNAS). This finding supports the idea of an evolutionarily ancient, predisposed neural mechanism in the vertebrate brain for the detection of animacy on the basis of distinctive motion cues. In addition to self-propelledness, other elementary motion cues that cause animacy perception in human adults include speed and variations of trajectory. Simple geometrical forms that accelerate or change their trajectory, while moving on a uniform background, elicit a stronger perception of animacy than objects moving at a constant speed and trajectory. One of my major research interest is the investigation of chicks' behavioural preferences for a variety of motion cues that induce animacy perception in humans.

The ability to recognize conspecifics is of biological relevance for many vertebrates, including humans. Species as distant as birds, human and non-human primates share early and experience-independent social predispositions that cause the youngsters to preferentially attend to and learn about conspecifics. For example, newborn babies’ well-known tendency to preferentially orient toward faces (CONSPEC) could provide the basis for subsequent development of specialized face-processing (CONLERN) (Morton and Johnson 1991). Since the very development of the CONPEC and CONLERN model, the domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) has been regarded as an optimal developmental model for the study of social predispositions, since it can be tested in the absence of any visual experience. One of the more robust findings in the literature is that naïve chicks preferentially approach a stimulus resembling a conspecific (such as a stuffed fowl) rather than a less naturalistic object (a red box) (Johnson and Horn 1988). One of my main research interests is the investigation the neural mechanisms that mediate this predisposition, analyzing brain activity by staining the transcription factor c-Fos with a immunohistochemical procedure. 

Finally I am also interested in the study of early visual attention for social stimuli in newborn infants at high risk for autism. This approach allows to clarify the role of evolutionary-conserved social predispositions in the typical and atypical development of higher social-cognitive skills in humans.

Attività di ricerca

As a part of the Premesor - ERC project supervised by Prof. Giorgio Vallortigara I am now conducting investigations of domestic chicks’ early social predispositions for specific motion properties that characterize animate objects. Moreover, toghether with Dr. Uwe Mayer, I am also participating to investigations of the neural substrate of the already well-established social-predispositions of this animal model. In order to do so we analyze brain activity by staining the transcription factor c-Fos with a immunohistochemical procedure. Moreover, I am also collaborating with Dr. Elisa Di Giorgio and Dr. Elisa Frasinelli in order to record indexes of early visual attention for social stimuli in newborn infants at high risk for autism (NIDA network, PI Dr. Maria Luisa Scattoni).

The studies that I conducted during my previous research experiences in the Univerisity of Padova (Department of General Psychology, advisor Prof. Lucia Regolin) and in the University of Trento (CIMeC, ACN Lab, advisor Prof. Giorgio Vallortigara), involved three main fields of investigation:

Face preferences: using naïve domestic chicks as a model I investigated the presence of innate preferences for face-like schematic and photographic stimuli, controlling for the role of low level perceptual variables, such as spatial frequencies composing the stimulus, contrast polarity and for the role of the “up-down bias” (preference for top-heavy configurations). The results obtained are particularly relevant in a comparative perspective with respect to evidence of face preferences in human newborns, suggesting the presence of early experience independent subcortical face-processing devices in newborns of phylogenetically distant social species. Hemispheric specialization in relation to face preferences was also investigated.

Social learning: investigation of the role of social learning in pecking responses in the domestic chick, checking for the presence of lateralization effects in this domain.  We demonstrated the presence of socially mediated learning of pecking avoidance (of bitter tasting items), finding also a right hemisphere dominance for this task, in line with the major role of this hemisphere for social cognition abilities.

Gaze processing: Using the domestic chick as a model I investigated brain lateralization and its role in chicks’ responses to the direction of predators’ gaze. The aim of this work was to determine whether chicks would be able to recognize two gaze directions of a dummy human face and whether they did so with one hemisphere preferentially. Both predictions were confirmed by the experimental results.

Convegni e conferenze

Di Giorgio, E., Frasnelli, E., Rosa Salva, O., Vallortigara, G. (2014). Discovering the social world: insights from chicks, typical newborns and newborns at high-risk for autism. Talk given at the International Conferece Non Invasive Tools for early Detection of Autistic Spectrum Disorders 16-17 October, Rome.

 

Rosa Salva O. (2014). The domestic chick as an animal model of early social predisposition. Talk given at International Congress of Neuroethology, Sapporo 28 July -1 August 2014.

 

Regolin L., Rugani R., Rosa Salva O. (2014). The larger shall be on the right side. Domestic chicks are better at identifying larger sets when these are located to the right side. International Conference of Infant Studies, Berlin, 3-5 July 2014.

 

Rosa Salva, O., Lorenzi E., Grassi M., Regolin L., Vallortigara G. (2014). Unlearned Social Preferences in Visually Naïve Chicks. International Conferente of Infant Studies, Berlino (Germania), 3-5 luglio 2014.

 

Mayer U., Rosa Salva O., Vallortigara G (2014). Unlearned social predisposition in chicks and their neural correlates as revealed by immediate early gene expression. International Conference of Infant Studies, Berlin, 3-5 July 2014.

 

Rosa Salva O., Lorenzi E., Grassi M., Regolin L., Vallortigara G. (2014). Unlearned Social Preferences in Visually Naïve Chicks. International Conference of Infant Studies, Berlin, 3-5 July 2014.

 

Rosa Salva O. (2013). Biological predispositions in social cognition (talk). Von Menschen und Tieren. Implikatione und Konsequenze eines Verhältnisses. Erste internationale biophilosophische Schule Kassel im Rahmen des DAAD Programms “Hochschuldialog mit Südeuropa 2013”, Kassel (Germany) 12-14 November 2013.

 

Santolin C., Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2013) “ABA vs AAB”: do chicks extract the rule? 3rd ToK Conference of CompCog, Wien (Austria) 3-5 July 2013.

 

Rosa Salva O., Lorenzi E., Grassi M., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2013) A comparative study of the motion cues to animacy. 3rd ToK Conference of CompCog, Wien (Austria) 3-5 July 2013.

 

Santolin C, Sartori D, Rosa Salva O, Regolin L. & Vallortigara G (2013) Abilities of sequence learning and rule learning: experimental evidence in newborn chicks (Gallus gallus). Workshop on Infant Language Development, Donostia San Sebastian (Spain), 20-22 June 2013.

 

Sartori D, Santolin C, Rosa Salva O, Regolin L. & Vallortigara G (2013) Learning abstract rules in an animal model (Gallus gallus): experimental evidence in social and nonsocial contexts. Workshop on Concepts Actions and Objects, Functional and Neural Perspectives, Rovereto, 23-26 May 2013.

 

O. Rosa Salva, C. Santolin, L. Regolin, G. Vallortigara (2013) Rule learning in domestic chicks (Gallus gallus). Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, 10-12 January 2013.

 

Santolin C., Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2012). Rule learning in an animal model (Gallus gallus). 3nd Workshop on Cognition and Evolution, Rovereto (Italy) 28 June – 1 July 2012.

 

Corazza F., Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2012). Investigation of Navon effect in domestic chicks based on an imprinting procedure. 3nd Workshop on Cognition and Evolution, Rovereto (Italy) 28 June – 1 July 2012.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2012). The study of early face preferences in an animal model, the domestic chick (Gallus gallus). XVIII Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Minneapolis (Minnesota), 7-9 June 2012.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2012). Processing of hierarchical visual stimuli in young domestic chicks. XVIII Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Minneapolis (Minnesota), 7-9 June 2012.

 

Santolin C., Rosa Salva O., Regoli L. & Vallortigara G. (2012). Sequence learning in domestic chicks (Gallus gallus). ASAB Easter Conference 2012 “Animal Behaviour”, Aberystwyth University (United Kingdom) 11-13 April 2012.

 

Rosa Salva O. & Vallortigara G. (2011). Predisposizioni per il riconoscimento degli oggetti animati ed il loro ruolo nello sviluppo della personificazione. Persona Ficta, Seminario Internazionale della Scuola di Dottorato in Studi Letterari, Linguistici e Filologici, Trento (Italy) 1-2 December 2011.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2011). A comparative perspective for the study of early face preferences: Domestic chicks as an animal model (talk). European Social Cognition Network 2, Sligo (Ireland), 24-28 August 2011. Abstract book page 34.

 

Cavazzana A., Rosa Salva O., Rugani R. & Regolin L. (2011). Holistic perception of visual configurations in young domestic chicks. Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Summer Conference, St. Andrews (Scotland), 18-19 August 2011.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2011). Perceptual properties influencing the preference for face-like stimuli in domestic chicks: role of contrast polarity. 2nd ToK Conference of CompCog, Prague (Czech Republic), 25-28 May 2011. Abstract book page 19, poster 5.

 

Cavazzana A., Rugani R., Rosa Salva O. & Regolin L. (2011). Global Processing of visual configurations in domestic chicks. 2nd ToK Conference of CompCog, Prague (Czech Republic), 25-28 May 2011. Abstract book page 18, poster 2.

 

Rosa Salva O., Lanzoni L., Cavazzana A., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2011). Tests of global-local processing styles in young domestic chicks. Workshop on Concepts Actions and Objects, Functional and Neural Perspectives, Rovereto (Italy), 19 – 22 May 2011.

 

Vallortigara G. & Rosa Salva O. (2011). I volti sono speciali. Solo per noi? (talk). I lati del volto, Venezia 17-18 January, 2011.

 

Rosa Salva O. & Regolin L (2010). The controversial nature of logic: issues in transitive inference studies (talk). 3rd DAAD Autumn School, Delmenhorst (Germany) 20 – 24 September 2010.

 

Rosa Salva O. (2010). Effects of contrast polarity reversal in newborn chicks' face preferences. 3rd DAAD Autumn School, Delmenhorst (Germany) 20 – 24 September 2010.

 

Normando S., Mollo A., Rosa Salva O. & Regolin L. (2010). A face preference study in lambs (Ovis aries). V European Conference on Behavioural Biology, Ferrara (Italy) 16 – 18 July 2010, Conference Abstracts, p. 133.

 

Rosa Salva O. Daisley JN., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2010). Lateralization and time corse of social learning in chicks. V European Conference on Behavioural Biology, Ferrara (Italy) 16 – 18 July 2010, Conference Abstracts, p. 143.

 

Cavazzana A., Rosa Salva O., Rugani R., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2010). Are chicks sensitive to the Ebbinghaus illusion? 2nd Workshop on Cognition and Evolution, Rovereto (Italy) 17-20 June 2010.

 

Rosa Salva O., Orso V., Scardellato G., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2010). Effects of contrast polarity reversal in newborn chicks’ face preferences. 2nd Workshop on Cognition and Evolution, Rovereto (Italy) 17-20 June 2010.

 

Regolin L., Rosa Salva O. & Vallortigara G. (2010). Preference for faces in domestic chicks: role of contrast polarity. XVII International Conference on Infant Studies, Baltimore (USA) 10-14 March 2010.

 

Rosa Salva O. (2009). Of chickens and faces: A comparative study on spontaneous face preferences (talk). DAAD Autumn School, Neurocognition: Foundations and Clinical Processes, Izmir (Turkey) 12-14 October 2009.

 

Rosa-Salva O., Farroni T., Regolin L.,Vallortigara G. & Johnson M.H. (2009). A comparative study on spontaneous face preferences (talk). British Psychological Scociety 2009 Annual Developmental Psychology Conference, Nottingham (United Kingdom), 9–11 September 2009. British Psychological Scociety 2009 Annual Developmental Psychology Conference Abstracts, p. 70.

 

Rosa-Salva O., Matterello T., Xodo E., Regolin L., Farroni T. e Vallortigara G. (2009). Chickens, babies and faces. 31st International Ethological Conference, Rennes (France), 19–24 August 2009. 31st International Ethological Conference Abstracts, p 391.

 

Regolin L., Daisley J.N., Raveane S., Rosa-Salva O. & Vallortigara G. (2009). Time dependent lateralization of social learning in the domestic chick. 31st International Ethological Conference, Rennes (France), 19–24 August 2009. 31st International Ethological Conference Abstracts, p. 381.

 

Raveane S., Daisley J.N., Rosa-Salva O., Vallortigara G. & Regolin L. (2009). Time related lateralization of social learning in the domestic chick (Gallus gallus). Workshop on Cognition and Evolution, Rovereto (Italy), 11-13 June 2009.

 

Xodo E., Mattarello T., Rosa Salva O., Regolin L., Farroni T, Johnson M.H. & Vallortigara G. (2009). Converging evidence of face preferences in newborn babies and visually deprived domestic chicks. Workshop on Cognition and Evolution, Rovereto (Italy), 11-13 June 2009.

 

Rosa Salva O., Xodo E., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2009). Of chickens and faces. Workshop on Concepts Actions and Objects, Functional and Neural Perspectives, Rovereto (Italy), 22-25 April 2009.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. e Vallortigara G. (2009). Innate preferences for face like stimuli in chicks. Talk presented at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany), 19 March 2009.

 

Rosa Salva O. & Matterello T. (2008). Predispositions for the analysis of biological objects (conducts round table). DAAD Autumn School, Montegrotto, Padova (Italy), 18-20 October 2008.

 

Rosa Salva O. (2008). Facing a face. DAAD Autumn School, Neurocognition: Foundations and Clinical Processes, Montegrotto, Padova (Italy), 18-20 October 2008.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2008). Newborn chicks’ preference for face-like configurations: Underlying mechanisms and lateralization effects. 37th European Conference on Visual Perception, Utrecht (Netherlands), 24-28 August 2008. Perception, 37 ECVP Abstract Supplement, p. 34. 

 

Attendance to the congress Le Neuroscienze cognitive in Italia, Padova (Italy), 31st January 2008.

 

Attendance to the congress La Coscienza nelle Scienze Cognitive, Roma (Italy), 6-7 December 2007.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2007). Naïve domestic chicks prefer schematic face-like configurations. Graduate Workshop “Cockroaches to culture: current controversies in cognition”, Trieste (Italy), 24-25 November 2007.

 

Rosa Salva O., Regolin, L. & Vallortigara G. (2007). Innate preference for face-like stimuli (talk). 15th Trieste Symposium on Perception and Cognition: Kanizsa Memorial Lecture. Trieste (Italy), 22-23 November 2007.

 

Rosa Salva O., Romor C. & Regolin L (2007). Preference for face-like stimuli in an animal model. 39th European Brain and Behaviuor Society, Trieste (Italy), 15-19 September 2007. Neuronal Plasticity, 2007, 39th Annual European Brain and Behaviour Society Abstracts,  p. 12

 

Daisley JN., Rosa Salva O., Vallortigara G. & Regolin L.  (2007). Lateralization of social learning in the domesti chick (Gallus gallus): learning to avoid. 39th European Brain and Behaviuor Society, Trieste (Italy), 15-19 September 2007. Neuronal Plasticity, 2007, 39th Annual European Brain and Behaviour Society Abstracts, p. 10.

 

Rosa Salva O. & Regolin L. (2007). Spontaneous preference for face-like displays in newborn chicks. 30th European Conference on Visual Perception, Arezzo (Italy), 27-31 August 2007. Perception, 36 ECVP Abstract Supplement, p. 153.

 

Daisley J.N., Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G.  (2007). Lateralization of social learning in the domesti chick (Gallus gallus). 30th European Conference on Visual Perception, Arezzo (Italy), 27-31 August 2007. Perception, 36 ECVP Abstract Supplement, p. 185.

 

Rosa Salva O. (2007). Il pulcino di pollo domestico come modello animale per lo studio della cognizione sociale (talk). 1° Convegno Nazionale dei Dottorati in Scienze Cognitive, Messina-Noto (Italy), 6-8 June 2007. Congress pre-prints, p. 20.

 

Daisley J.N., Rosa Salva O. & Regolin L. (2007). Lateralization of social cognition in the domestic chick. 1st ECDBNL (Evolution and Development of Cognitive, Behavioural and Neural Lateralization) Project Meeting, Chieti (Italy), 31 May–1 June 2007.

 

Rosa Salva O. & Regolin L. (2007). Right hemispheric dominance for responding to a predator’s gaze in the young domestic chick. 5th European conference of Comparative Neurobiology, Parigi (France), 25-28 April 2007. ECCN Abstracts P 58, p. 123.

 

Rosa Salva O., Fracasso A., & Regolin L. (2006). Uso preferenziale dell’emisfero destro nella risposta allo sguardo in pulcini di pollo domestico. 22° National Congress of the Società Italiana di Etologia, Erice (Italy), 18-22 September 2006. SIE Abstracts, Abstr. PO6-CAN, p. 88.

 

Rosa Salva O., Fracasso A., & Regolin L. (2006). Brain lateralisation in chicks’ ability to discriminate gaze direction of a potential predator while performing in a pebble-floor feeding task. 5th Forum of European Neuroscience, Vienna (Austria), 8-12 July 2006. FENS Forum Abstracts, vol. 3, Abstr. A055.34.

 

Rugani R., Rosa Salva O., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2006). Visibility and response delay selectively affect search behaviour of social vs non-social goal objects in the young domestic chick. 12th Trieste Symposium on Perception and Cognition, Kanizsa Lecture, Trieste (Italy), 17-18 November 2005.

 

Attendance to the II World Conference, The Future of Science - Evolution, Venice (Italy), 20-23 September 2006.

 

Rosa Salva O., Rugani R., Regolin L. & Vallortigara G. (2005). Looking for food vs looking for social companion: Visibility and response delay selectively affect behaviour in the young domestic chick (Gallus gallus). 29th International Ethological Conference, Budapest (Hungary), 20-27 August 2005. IEC Abstracts, Abstr. p. 187.

 

Attendance to the Italian Society of Ethology Annual Meeting (SIE), Padova (Italy), 15-17 September 2004