Lab Activities

Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

[7-9 March 2019]
The post doc Vanessa Era gave a talk at the 2019 International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS) in a symposium titled "The dynamics of Social Interaction: new approaches for Neuroscience and Autism"

[21 February 2019]
  • Carsten de Dreu, Full Professor in Social and Organisational Psychology at Leiden University, gave a talk in our Laboratory.
    ABSTRACT: "Competitive interactions, including those between terrorists and police officers and schoolyard bullies and their victims, often take the form of attacker-defender contests. In theory, attackers should mismatch while defenders should match their antagonist’s toughness. Whether and why humans (fail to) implement such mismatching-matching strategies is unknown and examined here. Fifty males provided saliva before and after making 60 investments as either attacker or defender in an incentivized economic contest with antagonists that played tough or soft strategies. Results show (i) attackers fail to mismatch their defender’s strategy, whereas defenders adequately matched their attacker’s toughness; (ii) baseline testosterone inhibits mismatching during attack but not matching during defense; (iii) increases in testosterone and matching rather than mismatching associated with more attacker victories but lower attacker earnings; and (iv) cortisol was unrelated to contest behavior and outcomes. Thus, mismatching one’s antagonist’s toughness is difficult and the required flexibility is inhibited by testosterone."
  • Tiago Bortolini, PhD. Postdoctoral researcher at the Cognitive and Neuroinformatic Unit at the D'Or Institute for Research and Education (Rio deJaneiro, Brazil), gave a talk in our Laboratory.
    ABSTRACT: "Group belongingness is a basic human need. Humans are attached not only to own kin but also to non-kin cultural groups, like nations, religious groups and football clubs. Although this is an important characteristic of our species, we are far from a consensus regarding the psychometrical dimensions of group belongingness and the neurobiology behind it. Our lab has been studying these topics using football fans as a model of a highly significant cultural group. In this talk, I'll present studies in which we investigated group belongingness through psychometric and functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) techniques. In Study 1, we showed the validity of different constructs (i.e. group identification, identity fusion and entitativity) related to different cultural groups in a Brazilian sample. In Study 2 we tested a hypothesis, that hooliganism is typically motivated by a parochial form of prosociality. In a survey of Brazilian football fans (N = 465), results suggest that fan violence is fostered by intense social cohesion (identity fusion) combined with perceptions of chronic outgroup threats. In study 3 we investigated the neural mechanisms underlying ingroup altruistic behavior in male football fans using event-related fMRI. We designed an effort measure based on handgrip strength to assess the motivation to earn money (i) for oneself, (ii) for anonymous ingroup fans, or (iii) for a neutral group of anonymous non-fans. While overlapping valuation signals in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) were observed for the three conditions, the subgenual cingulate cortex (SCC) exhibited increased functional connectivity with the mOFC as well as stronger hemodynamic responses for ingroup versus outgroup decisions."

[23-25 January 2019]
Michele Scandola helded a 3-day course on Multilevel models and Bayesian statistics in the AgliotiLab.

[26 October 2018, 2 pm]
Matthew Belmonte (Nottingham Trent University) - Aula 6, first floor, Facoltà di Medicina e Psicologia, Sapienza Universty of Rome, via dei Marsi 78, Roma
Point OutWords: A Caregiver-delivered, Computer-Assisted Motor and Communicative Skills Therapy for Autism
Autism is a heterogenous condition, encompassing many different subtypes and presentations. Of those people with autism who lack communicative speech, some are more skilled at receptive language than their expressive difficulty might suggest. This disparity between what can be spoken and what can be understood correlates with motor and especially oral motor abilities, and thus may be a consequence of limits to oral motor skill. Point OutWords, tablet-based software targeted for this motor-impaired subgroup and designed in collaboration with autistic clients and their communication therapists, exploits the autistic fascination with parts and details to motivate attention to learning manual motor and oral motor skills essential for communication.
Along the way, autistic clients practise pointing and dragging at objects, then pointing at sequences of letters on a keyboard, and even speaking the syllables represented by these letters. Whereas many teaching and learning strategies adapted from methods for non-autistic people end up working against autistic cognition by asking people with autism to do what they cannot easily do, Point OutWords works with autistic cognition, by beginning from the autistic skill at manipulating parts and details.
Users progress from Point Mode in which they learn to point and to drag iconic puzzle pieces to assemble whole objects, to Type Mode in which pieces labelled with alphabetic symbols are assembled into wholes by tapping the corresponding symbol on a keyboard. They thus move from representing objects as sequences of iconic puzzle pieces to representing them as sequences of symbols.. We describe the design of Point OutWords, and of a current randomised controlled trial evaluating it for efficacy via both internal measures of motor interaction and external standard tests and surveys of communicative functioning.

[25 October 2018, 2 pm]
Matthew Belmonte (Nottingham Trent University) - Aula Luciani, CU027 (Fisiologia umana, piano terra), Sapienza University of Rome
Autism as a Dimensional Construct, from Cognitive Neurophsyiology to Behaviour
Our work with people with autism, their family members, and with the general population has indicated that many (though not all) aspects of autism heretofore construed as categorical differences become more explicable as dimensional variations continuously distributed throughout the population. In autism siblings, autistic traits covary with the behaviourally measured ability to distribute attention across bilateral visual stimulus arrays, and with a delayed and prolonged time course of prefrontal and cerebellar activation associated with changing demands for attentional selection. Our current work associates autistic traits with heightened P3b visual event-related potential in response to task-irrelevant stimuli, across tasks including go/no-go response inhibition and visual spatial attentional shifting and selection; and also associates reaction time in a theory-of-mind task with network and regional measures of functional and structural brain connectivity including diffusion-tensor measures of regional structural integrity and network efficiency in right supramarginal gyrus. Behaviourally, our work associates autistic traits with a broad range of cognitive traits and abilities, including resistance to false memory but also deficits in source memory which may be associated with difficulty separating models of one's own and others' beliefs, the ability to recognise faces from eyes, and even dimensional aspects of paraphilic interest. Taken together, such results support an integrated model of autistic and non-autistic brain and cognitive development in which domain-general cognitive skills prerequisite to the emergence of higher-order social capacities are distributed throughout the population continuously and independently of each other, but can synergise during development towards a more categorical and syndromic endpoint.

[12 September 2018]
The post doc Gaetano Tieri gave a talk at the ICSC 2018 Conference at La Sapienza University, Title "Neural basis of human-avatar motor interactions embedded in different social context" at the Symposium on "Beyond the video: Naturalistic approaches to examining social motor behaviour".

[4-8 September 2018]
The PhD student Valentina Nicolardi gave a talk at the 19th WORLD CONGRESS OF PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY, Lucca, Italy - organised by the International Organization of Psychophysiology (IOP) and the IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca. Here you can find a picture.

[20 July 2018]
The post doc Vanessa Era gave a talk at the ESCAN Conference on the "Neural basis of human-avatar motor interactions embedded in different social context" at the Symposium on "Interactive brains: neural mechanisms of two person social interaction".

[5 July 2018]
Professor Richard Ridderinkhof gave a talk at La Sapienza on "A predictive processing theory of action affordances and intention reading: Turning goalkeepers into penalty killers".

[17 July 2017]
Joint action meeting with Giacomo Novembre and Lucia Sacheli.

[June-July 2017]
Professor Michael Inzlicht (University of Toronto) gave 3 talks during a visiting period in our laboratory.
  • "The myth of self-control", on June 21st at 10:00 at Aula 6 (Department of Psychology- Via dei Marsi, 78);
  • "The Replication Crisis in Psychology: A Personal, First-Person Account", on June 27th at 10:00 at Aula 6 (Department of Psychology - Via dei Marsi, 78);
  • "Empathy" on July the 5th.

[20 June 2017]
Professor Anouk Keizer (Utrecht University) gave a talk on
"Body representation disturbances in anorexia nervosa – insights from bodily illusions"

[13-19 June 2017]
The Lab has attended the annual meeting in Gerace.

[27 April 2017]
Dr Oliver Kannape (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK) gave a talk on
"Motor Awareness and Body Perception in Virtual Reality"

Agliotilab has organized

[28-30 November 2016, 1-2 December 2016]
Michele Scandola
"Linear Mixed Models on R"

[20 February 2016]
Emmanuele Tidoni will give a talk on the 20th of February at the MLAC (Museo Laboratorio d'Arte Contemporanea - Sapienza University of Rome) during a discussion about cognitive enhancement, organized by SISSA (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati) and Sapienza University of Rome.
Here you can find the flyer and the program of the event.

Agliotilab has organized two one-week courses:

[11-15 May 2015] 9.00-13.00
Prof. Mark V. Albert (Northwestern University, Chicago)
"From Machine Learning to Human Learning: Leveraging applied computational strategies to understand human cognition"

[9-12 June 2015] schedule TBA
Dott. Jason A. French (Northwestern University, Chicago)
"Introduction to mixed models in R"

[16 May 2015]
The Museum of the History of Medicine at Sapienza University of Rome will again take part in the “European Night of Museums”. In the Museum, which owns and displays the first ever electro-shock apparatus, visitors will be invited to assist to explanations of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques by the Agliotilab.
In the “Science café” talk named Brain and illusions with Salvatore Maria Aglioti and Simone Gozzano will show and discuss how our brain collects, selects and organizes information that goes to consciousness and so often leads us to some curious self-deceptions. Here you can find the flyer of the event.

[27-28 May 2015]
The Lab will have a meeting in Gerace (RC). Here you can find the flyer of the event.

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