Vision and Research

Cognitive Neuroscience at SISSA studies how human and animal brains generate streams of perception and organize them into thoughts and actions, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of the human mind and how it is grounded in the brain. 

The mind/brain system is surely one of the most complex natural objects. Its behaviour is determined by a wide array of dynamics, ranging enormously in quality (neurons vs. mental representations), time span (spikes happen in milliseconds, learning can take years), and spatial resolution (some basic perceptual features are coded in single neurons, syntax is processed by a wide network of areas spanning nearly the whole brain). Clearly, taking up all these different dynamics at the same time would be a hopeless endeavour. Just as hopeless, however, would be to focus on one of them, and ignore the existence of the others. The Cognitive Neuroscience group at SISSA is a thriving attempt at finding the best balance between these opposite risks -- systems neuroscience and cognitive science, single neurons and large populations dynamics, the mind and the brain: all together in the same place, cross-fertilizing each other.

With this vision in mind, research in our group covers tactile perception and learning (Mathew Diamond); food, action control and social cognition (Raffaella Rumiati); neural computation in the hippocampus and in language (Alessandro Treves); time and space perception (Domenica Bueti); reading, language and abstract cognition (Davide Crepaldi); and visual perception and neural processing in the visual brain (Davide Zoccolan). Independent lines of research are also conducted by our senior postdocs on spatio-temporal neural coding and human categorization (Romain Brasselet) and odour perception, including its implications for social interactions (Valentina Parma). Check out for more on the researchers' pages!

Previous faculty includes Antonino Vallesi, now Associate Professor at the University of Padua, Giorgia Silani, now at the University of Vienna, and Giosué Baggio, now Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. And of course, the name of SISSA as a cognitive neuroscience place was established in the world through the invaluable contributions of Tim Shallice and Jacques Mehler, who have retired.