Art, Humanities, and Neuroscience Fellowships

Each year, the Academy sponsors Fellowships in Art, Humanities, and Neuroscience, and we are proud to have become known as the leading academic institution for the advanced study of this rich interdisciplinary field. (For details about neuroscience events at the Academy, please go to the Art, Humanities, and Neuroscience Project page.) 

The Art, Humanities, and Neuroscience Fellowships program at the Italian Academy is dedicated to the understanding of the possibilities offered by the cognitive neurosciences, broadly conceived, for the understanding of the arts and letters. The aim of the project is to establish a firm basis for interdisciplinary work in this area. Fellows are given every opportunity to organize joint projects and whatever seminars and conferences may be necessary to further development of the relations between the neurosciences and the humanities. Applications from neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and scholars of the humanities with an interest in the neurosciences or neurophilosophy are encouraged, as well as from other relevant fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D vision among others.

Humanities & Neuroscience Fellows

  • Institut Jean Nicod (ENS-CNRS-EHESS) - Paris

    Vision to reason: visual routines for manipulating diagrams

    2010-2011: Fall

    Valeria Giardino obtained her Doctorate in 2006 at the University of Rome "La Sapienza." In her thesis, she discussed the use of figures and diagrams in mathematics. In 2007, she was an Associate Post-doctoral Fellow at the Institut Jean Nicod. From 2008 to 2010, her research at the Institut Nicod on Diagram-based Reasoning was supported by the European Community's Seventh Framework Program under a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship for Career Development. Her current research aims at developing a theory about the way and the reasons that led humans to increase the powers of their mind by relying on external cognitive tools. She has published a book in Italian, together with Prof. Piazza, Senza Parole. Ragionare con le Immagini (Without Words. Reasoning with Images; Milano: Bompiani), and several articles in peer-reviewed journals.


  • Columbia University/NYSPI

    Longitudinal imaging of adolescents at risk for schizophrenia

    2009-2010: Fall and Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Tiziano Colibazzi, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Clinical Neuroscience in the Department of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr Colibazzi's research has encompassed several topics including using fMRI to probe emotional circuitry in humans and exploring structure and shape in the normal brain and in schizophrenia. More recently, Dr. Colibazzi's research has focused on understanding how the adolescent brain changes throughout development and whether this knowledge can help us predict who will develop schizophrenia.

  • Columbia University

    Data fusion and data modeling: how Big Data can help us understand the development of illness in adolescents at ultra-high risk for psychosis.

    2014-2015: Fall

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Tiziano Colibazzi, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Clinical Neuroscience in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is also on faculty at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Dr Colibazzi's research focuses on understanding mechanisms that lead to the development of psychotic illness through the use of anatomical imaging, functional imaging (fMRI), DTI and resting state imaging. These imaging modalities are combined through a variety of multivariate methods with the goal of identifying biological predictors of psychosis.


  • Università degli Studi di Messina

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Are antidepressant effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation mediated by stem cells?

    2007-2008: Fall & Spring

    Rosalia Crupi received her Ph.D. in Clinical Neurosciences at the Medical School of the University of Messina after taking a degree in Biological Sciences in 2003 at the same university with a thesis entitled "Cytotoxicity effect of nemathocyste Aiptasia mutabilis capsular fluid on VERO and HEP-2 cells." She currently collaborates as a researcher at CUNY's Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.

  • École Normale Supérieure; École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)

    Heterogeneous cognition: how cognitive artifacts shape the mind

    2018-2019: Spring

    Roberto Casati, senior researcher with the French CNRS and professor at EHESS, is currently the director of Institut Jean Nicod in Paris. A philosopher of the cognitive sciences, he has made contributions to the study of visual and auditory objects and of spatial representation. His last book, the visual World of Shadows, with Patrick Cavanagh, will be published in 2019 with MIT Press. His work on Digital Colonialism has spurred debate in France and Italy. He is currently working on cognitive artifacts and spatial disorientation. 

    Web page:

  • Columbia University

    The neural dynamics behind aesthetic appreciation

    2017-2018: Spring

    Mel joins the academy as a specialist in judgment and decision making who is interested in empirical aesthetics. Mel received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from NYU where he studied how neural mechanisms can explain biases in our everyday decisions. Since then, Mel has conducted similar projects at the Department of Economics at Columbia University studying various aspects of economic decision making. In the arts, Mel is a regular performer with the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers and an avid vernacular jazz dancer. Currently, Mel aims to combine his interests in the arts and sciences with the study of aesthetics. Mel's latest projects will explore how different sequences (e.g., song structure, choreography, etc.) can encourage or suppress aesthetic appreciation. 


  • Columbia University; New York University

    Brain representations of mental states: the neuronal integration of emotion and cognition

    2013-2014: Fall

  • Consorzio FINO (Filosofia del Nord Ovest; Italy)

    Aesthetic experience and sensory imagination

    2019-2020: Fall

    Marta Benenti received her PhD in Philosophy in 2018 from the FINO Consortium (Universities of Turin, Eastern Piedmont, Genoa and Pavia). During her PhD she has been a visiting student at the philosophy departments of Glasgow, Bochum and Antwerp and was awarded a DAAD fellowship at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain (2018) for a research project on infants' discriminatory capacities of affective cues. She is now a teaching assistant at the University of Eastern Piedmont and is currently working on the publication of her thesis. 

    Her areas of interest are philosophy of the mind and aesthetics, and she is particularly interested in the interplay between perception, emotions and imagination in the experience of expressive qualities. 

    During her stay at the Italian Academy, she will investigate the role of "sensory imagination" in the experience of artworks, working at the intersection of philosophy and cognitive sciences. She will test philosophical accounts of gestural, affective and metaphorical properties against psychological evidence and the historical and critical background of selected artworks.

    Web page:

  • Columbia University

    Aberrant brain development of attention and language circuits as early risk markers of autism

    2014-2015: Spring

    Marisa Spann obtained a PhD in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology from George Washington University and a MPH at Yale School of Public Health. She recently completed a T32 postdoctoral research fellowship at Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons/New York State Psychiatric Institute with emphasis on translational child psychiatry and developmental neuroimaging. She continues at Columbia as an Associate Research Scientist. Her research centers on how prenatal risk factors affect brain and cognitive development during early childhood, and result in later childhood psychopathology. She is also interested in identifying sensitive timeframes during brain and cognitive development that confer the greatest risk for childhood psychopathology.

  • University of Massachusetts Boston

    The social affordance model: a sensorimotor view of intentional action and aesthetic involvement


    Maria Brincker received her Ph.D. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York earlier this year. She spent the past semester as a visiting scholar at NYU and will be Assistant Professor of Philosophy at UMass Boston from 2012. She studied Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Copenhagen, in her native Denmark, and also in Paris, primarily at Nanterre and the Sorbonne. This educational path --repeatedly intersecting with both the Continental and the Anglo-American tradition in philosophy and also with both the humanities and the natural sciences-- has left a defining mark on her heavily interdisciplinary approach.

    In her dissertation, directed by Jesse Prinz, she criticizes the traditional theoretical frameworks surrounding the neurological discovery and popularization of so-called mirror neurons. Brincker proposes an alternative "social affordance model" for understanding these and other sensorimotor circuits and their functional role in various cognitive processes. She explicitly uses the analyses of mirror neuron research to advocate for a broader paradigm shift towards more relational and embodied frameworks for understanding the mind.

    This doctoral research will also provide the foundation for Brincker's exploration of what one might call "aesthetic affordances," and the role of motor processes and social relations in the appreciation of art, which she will undertake while at the Italian Academy. For more information see her personal website:

  • Università di Torino

    Perinatal stress effects on emotional circuits in juvenile depression 

    2018-2019: Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Marco Cambiaghi was born in Como in 1981. He is a neuroscience research fellow at the University of Turin, Italy, working on the storage of emotional memories. He got his degree in Biology at the University of Milan and a PhD in Neuroscience and Experimental Neurology at the San Raffaele University in Milan. He performed his research at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute of Milan and at the University of Turin, gaining experience in in-vivo electrophysiological techniques, rodent behavior and brain stimulation. He has worked as a visiting scientist at the City University of New York, Columbia University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

    In addition to his research, he has a strong interest in the history of science and in scientific dissemination; he collaborates with two Italian newspapers (La Stampa and La Provincia di Como, where he has published more than 200 articles since 2004) and he is one of the founders of the scientific Festival della Luce (Light Festival), held in Como since 2013.

    During his stay at the Italian Academy, he will focus on the effects of perinatal stress on adolescent depression development in a murine preclinical model. In particular, he will investigate brain emotional circuits through behavioral and neurophysiological analysis.

  • Università di Trento (Italy)

    Efficient teaching practices and the neuroscience of learning

    2019-2020: Spring

    Manuela Piazza is currently associate professor at the Center for mind/brain sciences (CIMeC) at the University of Trento, Italy. She earned her PhD from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience of the University College, in London, UK, and has been a researcher at the French institute for medical research (INSERM), in Paris, France. As a cognitive neuroscientist she combines psychophysics and functional imaging techniques (fMRI, MEG) to the study of how the human brain supports cultural acquisitions. She importantly contributed in unveiling the neurocognitive underpinnings of basic mathematics, including number sense and mental arithmetic, and of word semantics. During her stay at the Academy she will focus on establishing links between the neurobiology of learning and the science of teaching.

    Web page:

  • Columbia University

    Investigating the physiology of dopamine neurons in pre-clinical Parkinson's Disease

    2016-2017: Spring

    Mahalakshmi Somayaji is a postdoctoral research scientist at the department of Molecular Therapeutics, Columbia University, New York. She obtained Ph.D in Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany. The main research focus during her graduate studies was in the development of experimental mouse models relevant to Parkinson disease (PD) and to understand the etiology of PD. She investigated the physiology of dopaminergic (DA) neurons, the loss of which results in the onset and pathogenesis of PD. Her research was the first to identify the precise anatomical localization and in vivo physiology of DA neurons, to understand differential pre-symptomatic vulnerability in response to stressors in PD. Her postdoctoral research includes understanding the synaptic physiology of DA neurons in the pre-symptomatic mouse models of PD and to investigate the role of DA pathway in regulating appetite.

    List of her peer-reviewed publications: (Maiden name: Mahalakshmi Subramaniam)

    Book Chapter

    • Subramaniam*, M., Roeper, J. “Subtypes of midbrain dopamine neurons”, Handbook of Basal Ganglia Structure and Function, Second Edition (2016).

    Papers in Peer-Reviewed Journals

    • Subramaniam*, M., Althof, D., Gispert, S., Schwenk, J., Auburger, G., Kulik, A., & Roeper, J. (2014). Mutant α-synuclein enhances firing frequencies in dopamine substantia nigra neurons by oxidative impairment of A-type potassium channels. The Journal of Neuroscience34(41), 13586-99.
    • Subramaniam*, M., Kern, B., Vogel, S., Klose, V., Schneider, G., & Roeper, J. (2014). Selective increase of in vivo firing frequencies in DA SN neurons after proteasome inhibition in the ventral midbrain. European Journal of Neuroscience40(6), 2898-2909.
    • Dominguez-Bautista, J. A., Klinkenberg, M., Brehm, N., Subramaniam*, M., Kern, B., Roeper, J., Auburger, G & Jendrach, M. (2015). Loss of lysosome-associated membrane protein 3 (LAMP3) enhances cellular vulnerability against proteasomal inhibition. European journal of cell biology94(3), 148-61.
    • Aishwarya, S., Mahalakshmi, S*, & Sehgal, P. K. (2008). Collagen-coated polycaprolactone microparticles as a controlled drug delivery system. Journal of microencapsulation25(5), 298-306.
  • Università degli Studi di Catania

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    The influence of risperidone on emotional stimuli processing in a sample of individuals with autism: a functional MRI study

    2006-2007: Fall & Spring

    Luigi Mazzone received his Italian degree in Medical School in 1998 at the University of Catania, Italy. He completed his residency in Children's Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Catania in 2003 and discussed a thesis on "Behavioural and temperamental characteristics of children and adolescents suffering from primary headache." In 2001, he worked as a visiting student at the division of child neurology and psychiatry at "Stella Maris" in Pisa, Italy, where he focused his attention on the psychopharmacological treatment of psychiatric disorders in childhood. In 2005-2006 he worked as visiting fellow at the Development and Affective Neuroscience Section of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Bethesda, MD. During this period he worked on the relationship between high levels of Glucocorticoid and psychiatric disorders by using functional magnetic resonance. Currently, he is a PhD student in Clinical Paediatrics at the University of Catania. The main focus of Dr. Luigi Mazzone's research is the use of neuroimaging to identify the mechanisms underlying the neurobiological function of psychiatric disorders in childhood such as Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism. During his fellowship at Columbia University, Dr. Luigi Mazzone will use functional MRI to study the alteration in the reward system in patients with ADHD and Anxiety Disorder compared to healthy controls. He was founder and is currently President of the Organization "Progetto AITA," an association of voluntary service that promotes care of Children and Adolescents with Neurological and Psychiatric disease in Italy. He has been member of the Italian Fencing National Team and winner of the Italian National Championship of Fencing in 2002.

  • Columbia University

    The role of smoking in cocaine addiction

    2012-2013: Fall and Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    After receiving his B.Sc. in Functional Genomics and Bioinformatics from the University of Milan, Luca Colnaghi moved to New York City in 2007, where in 2011 he received a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the NYU Langone Medical Center. He is now continuing his studies in the laboratory of Eric Kandel at Columbia University. He currently works on the molecular mechanisms of drug addiction and metaplasticity in the brain. Metaplasticity ascertains that past experiences may change synaptic architecture and neural circuitry, so that when another event comes along, it is experienced differently than if the past experience did not occur. He is studying how pre-exposure to nicotine and other drugs affect the systemic response to cocaine.

  • Columbia University (U.S.A.)

    Pathogenic role of tubulin tyrosine ligase and delta-2 tubulin in Alzheimer’s disease

    2020-2021: Fall and Spring

    Dr. Julie Parato is a postdoctoral scientist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Parato’s research focuses on changes in microtubule dynamics and tubulin post-translational modifications in Alzheimer's disease. Her work centers on how these alterations contribute to the hyperphosphorylation of tau, synaptic loss and neurodegeneration.

    Dr. Parato received her PhD in Neural and Behavioral Sciences from the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at SUNY Downstate in New York. Prior to that, she received her MS in Molecular Biology from Long Island University. She has also served as a mentor for the New York Academy of Sciences and as an adjunct assistant professor for CUNY in Biology and Psychology.

  • Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

    Pictorial presence as a function of conflicting information-processing in two visual subsystems

    2012-2013: Spring

  • Columbia University

    Detecting auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia with multivariate pattern analysis of fMRI


    Guillermo Horga received his M.D. from the Miguel Hernandez University of Spain in 2004. He completed his clinical specialization in Psychiatry at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain, where he started his studies on the brain mechanisms underlying schizophrenia. His dissertation work explores brain metabolism during the experience of auditory verbal hallucinations, the perception of voices in the absence of corresponding stimuli, in patients with acute psychotic symptoms.
    After his residency, he came to Dr. Brad Peterson's brain imaging laboratory at the New York State Psychiatric Institute (Columbia University Medical Center) under the auspices of a fellowship from the Alicia Koplowitz Foundation, where he applied functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) to the study of the neural mechanisms of learning and cognition in health as well as their disruption in a number of mental disorders in youth and adulthood (including obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression and schizophrenia).
    His current work aims to combine fMRI techniques and computational modeling to better understand the mechanisms that generate psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia. This work promises to afford detailed insight into the mechanisms underlying psychosis with the ultimate goal of uncovering novel treatment targets for patients who do not benefit from standard treatments.

  • Sapienza Università di Roma

    The brain circuits for memory: quality versus quantity

    2017-2018: Fall

    Giulia Torromino is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) in Naples. She recently obtained her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience at Sapienza Università di Roma. Her main research focus is the neurobiology of learning and memory in basal and pathological conditions, and in aging.
    Her doctoral work focused on the mechanisms of memory consolidation, with the goal of understanding how different brain regions interact to stabilize a memory trace. In particular, she studied the role of the communication between two brain structures, the hippocampal formation and the ventral striatum, in the post-learning phase of spatial tasks in rodents. She worked as an intern and researcher at the Champalimaud Center for The Unknown in Lisbon, at the DANDRITE center of Aarhus University, at the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory of Aix-Marseille University and at the Laboratory of Experimental Neurophysiology of Charles University in Pilsen. Her post-doctoral research focuses on the mechanisms of memory capacity and its aging-associated decline.
    Since 2011 she has been working with Numero Cromatico, a research center focusing on the study of the relationship between art and science. In the same year, she co-founded the journal nodes, in which she published her own articles and for which she translated several papers from eminent scientists. 

    Papers in peer-reviewed journal:
    • Sannino S.*, Russo F.*, Torromino G., Pendolino V., Calabresi P., De Leonibus E. Role of the hippocampus in object memory load in mice. Learning and memory 2012, 19(5):211-8.
    Papers on nodes journal
    • Torromino G., Towards a new merger of scientific disciplines and humanities, Nodes 5/6, 2015.
    • Gagliardi D.M. and Torromino G., On the concept of creativity: general creativity and multiple creativity. Nodes 1, 2013.
    • Torromino G., Notes on the development of neuroscience. Nodes 0, 2012.
    • Gagliardi D.M. and Torromino G., Notes on the concept of creativity between method and inspiration. Nodes magazine 0, 2012.

    Translations for nodes journal:
    • Ramachandran V. S. (2011), Neurologia dell’estetica visiva. Ninfe indiane, arte moderna, e becchi attraenti, Nodes 7/8, 2016 [Original Title: Neurology of Visual Aesthetics, Indian Nymphs, Modern Art, and Sexy Beaks; Published on: Aesthetic Science: Connecting Minds, Brains, and Experience by Arthur P. Shimamura e Stephen E. Palmer, Oxford University Press, 2011].
    • Zaidel D. (2015), La neuroestetica non riguarda solo l’arte, Nodes 7/8, 2016 [Original Title: Neuroesthetics is not just about art, frontiers in Human Neuroscience 9:1-2)].
    • Changeux J. P. (2012), Bellezza nel cervello: per una neuroscienza dell'arte, Nodes 5/6, 2015 [Original Title: Beauty in the Brain: for a neuroscience of art, Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei (2012), 23:315-320].
    • Zeki S. (2001), La creatività artistica e il cervello, Nodes 2, 2014 [Original Title: Artistic creativity and the Brain, Science (2001), Vol. 293:51-52].

  • Sapienza Università di Roma

    Should I stay or should I go? Neural underpinnings of inhibitory control of voluntary arm movements in pharmacoresistant epileptic patients

    2017-2018: Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Giovanni Mirabella is assistant professor of physiology at Sapienza University of Rome. He graduated in biology at the University of Trieste, where he also got a PhD in Neuroscience at the International School of Advanced studies. 

    His main interest lies in the neural underpinnings of the genesis of voluntary actions, as he believes they could offer the best experimental model for understanding how ‘free will’ can emerge from brain activity. Following Libet’s original intuition, i.e. free will would not be tied to our ability to select and choose actions but would rely on our ability to suppress them, about 15 years ago he started to study the neural basis of the so-called volitional inhibition. He has designed a reaching version of the stop signal paradigm and has used this paradigm while recording brain activity of monkeys, while causally manipulating the status of subthalamic nuclei by activating or deactivating the deep brain stimulators (DBS) in Parkinson’s patients, and while recording the electrocorticographic activity (ECoG) in pharmacoresistant epileptic patients. From this bulk of studies, he has proposed the intriguing hypothesis that the performance of actions and their suppression are not specified by independent sets of brain regions. Rather, acting and stopping seems to be functions emerging from specific interactions between largely overlapping brain regions, whose activity is intimately linked (directly or indirectly) to the evaluations of pros and cons of an action. 

    He has also studied the relationship between action language and language understanding in the frame of the embodied theory of language, suggesting that motor cortices are involved to some extent in language understanding. 

    As a fellow of the Italian Academy he will try to develop the above mentioned working hypotheses. 

    He has extensive experience in designing and executing behavioral studies both in healthy and unhealthy people (such as patients with Parkinson's disease, Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and primary motor stereotypies), and in recording electrophysiological signals from the brain (multielectrode and intracerebral electroencephalographic activity). He is currently serving as Associate Editor of Frontiers in Neural Technology and of Parkinson’s Disease.

  • New York University/Columbia University

    Neuroimaging of reward processing and decision-making


    Franco Pestilli obtained a B.A. from La Sapienza University, Rome (Italy), specializing in Experimental Psychology and Artificial Intelligence. For his doctoral research, he worked in the laboratory of Marisa Carrasco at New York University, New York (USA).
    Since his PhD, he has been working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Neuroscience of Columbia University, New York (USA), and as a Visiting Scientist at the Riken Brain Science Institute, Wako (Japan). He is currently working in the Laboratory of Vincent Ferrera at Columbia University. His research focuses on distinguishing the effects of attention and expected reward on behavior and neural response. In life, one attends to stimuli that are behaviorally relevant, and often relevant stimuli are those that will predict rewards. For this reason, the effects of attention and that of expected reward on neural response can be easily confounded. Pestilli is investigating how the neural mechanisms dedicated to control attention and predict reward interact to affect one's decisions.

  • Università di Padova and Columbia University

    Combined analysis of multimodal brain imaging data for the study and prevention of major depressive disorders in high risk offspring

    2011-2012: Fall and Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Francesca Zanderigo has always enjoyed applying her mathematical skills to define and solve problems related to human health care. As a graduate student at the Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, Italy, she focused on the quantitative analysis of cerebral hemodynamics in patients with carotid artery stenosis using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (Zanderigo et al., IEEE Transaction on Biomedical Engineering 56(5), 2009, 1287-97), and the hypo/ hyperglycemia prevention in diabetics by on-line monitoring and prediction of blood glucose concentration (Sparacino et al., Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice 74, 2006, S160-S163; Sparacino et al., IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 54(5), 2007, 931- 937; Zanderigo et al., Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology 1(5), 2007, 645-651). As a Research Scientist for the interdisciplinary Division of Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology, Department of Psychiatry and New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, she implemented mathematical models to analyze Positron Emission Tomography (PET) data in neuroreceptors system investigations. Specifically, Dr. Zanderigo developed a Bayesian approach to reduce the estimates variability in parametric images generation (Zanderigo et al., Nuclear Medicine and Biology 37, 2010, 443-51) and the application of alternative fitting methods to improve the sensitivity in occupancy studies (Zanderigo et al., Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 30(7), 2010, 1366-72), and collaborated in the assessment of a minimally invasive approach for PET data analysis (Ogden et al., Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 30(4), 2010, 816-26), the investigation of new radioligands (DeLorenzo et al., Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism 29(7), 2009, 1332-45; Milak et al., Journal of Nuclear Medicine 51(12), 2010, 1892-900), and their use in the study of the serotonin neurotransmitter system (Parsey et al., Biological Psychiatry 68(2), 2010, 170-8). She recently began working on the combined analysis of multimodal brain images (i.e. PET, MRI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, functional MRI) to provide biomarkers for personalized treatment of Major Depressive Disorders in high risk offspring by predicting and identifying individual factors that may favor certain treatments over others. She is also investigating and developing a novel unified automated approach for PET non-invasive full quantification to promote the use of PET in clinical practice.

  • Università di Torino

    Co-sponsored by the Physiology & Cellular Biophysics Department, Columbia University

    Perpetuation of memory storage: a novel mechanism in the long-term maintenance of synaptic plasticity and behavior


    Ferdinando Fiumara received his M.D. (2000) and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience (2005) from the University of Torino. He has continued his postdoctoral studies as an associate scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia University and he is currently Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University of Torino. His doctoral and postdoctoral research has been focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation and plasticity of synaptic connections between neurons. In particular, he has studied the role of synapsins, a family of synaptic vesicle-associated proteins, and their phosphorylation by protein kinases in the regulation of neurotransmitter release and in the short-term plasticity of synapses. He has also studied the formation and the short-term plasticity of behaviorally relevant neuronal circuits reconstructed in vitro. Currently, he is developing the neuroelectronic interfacing of complex circuits with controlled morphology and predictable connectivity of individually identifiable invertebrate neurons in culture for long-term analyses of synaptic activity in neuronal networks. As a fellow of the Italian Academy he will conduct his research in the laboratory of Eric Kandel at Columbia University focusing on novel molecular mechanisms involved in the perpetuation of long-term plasticity and memory storage at the synaptic level through the action of prion-like proteins and persistently activated protein kinases.


  • Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

    The admissible content of auditory experience.

    2014-2015: Fall

    Elvira Di Bona obtained her Ph.D. in Philosophy and Cognitive Sciences at the Institut Jean Nicod – École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris and at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan in 2013. Her dissertation, co-tutored by Roberto Casati and Michele Di Francesco, was on auditory perception. During her Ph.D. course, she spent research periods at the New York University, as a Fulbright Scholar, and at the University of Sydney, as an ARIA (Association for Research between Italy and Australasia) Grantee. She got a violin diploma at the Conservatorio of L'Aquila and Terni, and completed the "High Specialization Course in Music Studies – Solo Violin Performance" at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia (Rome) in 2008. She is currently Research Affiliate at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her research aims at developing a theory about the way in which, by audition, we perceive both objects' features (such as their texture or shape) and the space and time in which those objects are placed. In addition, she is working on a book on Frank Jackson's knowledge argument and on a project on aesthetics normativity sponsored by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) at the Freie Universität Berlin. She has published articles on pitch, the auditory perception of causation and sound in peer-reviewed international journals. At the Italian Academy she will be working on the admissible contents of auditory experience, which has been recently funded also by the Fondazione Franco e Marilisa Caligara to be developed at the University of Turin, Italy.

  • The University of Chicago (U.S.A.)

    How the mind deals with knowledge and truth: interdisciplinary perspectives

    2019-2020: Spring

    Dario Maestripieri is a Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development and the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at The University of Chicago. Dr. Maestripieri is a behavioral scientist interested in understanding human behavior and the human mind from a broad interdisciplinary perspective. Dr. Maestripieri is also interested in exploring and integrating the relative contributions of scientific and humanistic disciplines to the generation and transmission of new knowledge about human behavior and the human mind. Dr. Maestripieri was awarded the 'B. Grassi' prize from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, a Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association, and a Career Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health. He has been elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and Fellow of the Midwestern Psychological Association. Dr. Maestripieri has published 7 books and 235 articles and book chapters in the behavioral sciences. 

    Web page:

  • Università degli Studi di Milano

    Theatre, simulation, and mirror neurons

    2009-2010: Spring

    Chiara Cappelletto is currently Assistant Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Milan from which she holds a Ph.D in Philosophy in 2003 (The synoptic view. Essay on nature of form in Ludwig Wittgenstein's thought).
    In 2001 she received a grant "for continuing education of young excellent students" at the University of Milan. She spent a year at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, invited by George Didi-Huberman to take part in his seminar and to the workshop "Morphologies", focusing on link between Aesthetics and Natural Sciences. In 2003 she took her Diplôme d'Études Approfondies at EHESS on the concept of Darstellung in Aby Warburg and Ludwig Wittgenstein (supervisor Fernando Gil).
    In 2004, her book Il rito delle pulci. Wittgenstein morfologo [The flea's rite. On Wittgenstein's Morphology] obtained the ninth Castiglioncello Philosophy Award (president of jury Paolo Rossi, section "Young scholars, Antonella Musu").
    In 2005/2006 she held an one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Philosophy Dept. of the University of Milan (Aesthetics and Morphology in Wittgenstein. Origins and prospects). Her work focussed on the Wittgensteinian development of Goethe's morphological paradigm, relating sciences with culture.
    Since 2006, her research deals with the study of empathy and fiction in performing arts, taking in account the new perspectives in neuroaesthetics. Her most recent book is then devoted to Neuroestetica. L'arte del cervello [Neuroaesthetics. Brain's Art] (2009).
    She is currently developing theatrical researches. She has recently edited and prefaced Scena e dramma [Stage and Drama] by Waldemar Conrad and she is the author of several essays on aesthetics of theatre.

  • Columbia University

    Understanding a novel anticipatory task-related brain imaging signal

    2013-2014: Spring

  • Columbia University

    Consequences of prenatal nicotine exposure on nicotine and cocaine addiction during adolescence

    2013-2014: Fall and Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Bettina Drisaldi is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. She studied Biological Sciences at the University of Pavia, Italy, where she also obtained her PhD in Genetics. In 1998 she was awarded a Fullbright fellowship to study Neurobiology in the USA. After spending three years at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where she worked in the laboratory of David A. Harris on the molecular characteristics of prion proteins, in 2001 she moved to University of Toronto, to work as a postdoctorsal fellow in the laboratory of David Westaway at the Centre for Research in Neurodenerative Diseases. 

    After accepting a position in the Laboratory of Eric Kandel she is now studying the consequences of prenatal nicotine exposure on nicotine and cocaine addiction during adolescence and adult life. 

    Moreover, since addiction is considered to arise from a maladaptive persistent associative memory of a highly pleasurable experience, she is also working on the analysis of the molecular putative role in cocaine addiction of a protein associated to the maintenance and consolidation of hippocampal long-term memories.

  • Sapienza Università di Roma

    Structure and function of the SRD5A enzyme family: new targets for schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders

    2015-2016: Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Beatrice Vallone, PhD, is a Professor of Biochemistry at La Sapienza Università di Roma and currently a Visiting Professor in the Dept. of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics of Columbia University. Dr. Vallone investigates the structure of proteins to understand their role in human physiology and pathology, in order to set the basis for innovative therapies.
    Highlights of her career include having determined the structure of neuroglobin, a protein that plays a crucial role in neuronal protection, and having made substantial contribution to the field of protein engineering for creating blood substitutes and producing new antibiotics.
    As a fellow of the Italian Academy she will study testosterone alpha dehydrogenases, a family of membrane-embedded enzymes involved in the production of neurosteroids and in steroid activation. These are promising targets in psychiatry and oncology and an understanding of their structure will help in the design of novel drugs for severely debilitating pathologies.

    Web page:

  • Universiteit Maastricht

    Emotion and the brain

    2016-2017: Spring

    Beatrice de Gelder is Professor of Social and Affective Neuroscience at Maastricht University in The Netherlands. Her main areas of expertise are visual and audio-visual affective processes related to the perception of faces and bodies as well as auditory affective signals. She has extensive experience in designing and executing behavioral, functional and anatomical imaging studies, both in healthy and diseased populations, and has participated in funded research involving populations from diverse cultural backgrounds. Her current research focuses on face and body recognition and, recently, the neuroscience of art. She is currently serving as Editor in Chief of Frontiers of Emotion Science and Associate Editor for Frontiers in Psychopathology. In 2012, she was awarded an advanced European Research Council (ERC) scientific grant for the study of cultural differences in emotional body expression. In addition to Maastricht University, she holds appointments at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and University College London (UCL). Her book on “Emotions and the Body” has recently been published by Oxford University Press.

  • Università di Siena

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Transcranial magnetic stimulation for severe Tourette's Syndrome

    2008-2009: Fall and Spring

    Antonio Mantovani, MD, PhD, completed his medical training at Rome University and his psychiatry training at Siena University. Under the mentorship of Dr. Simone Rossi at Siena University, Dr. Mantovani received his PhD in Applied Neurological Sciences. His graduate work focused on neurophysiological correlates of psychiatric disorders. Under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah H. Lisanby, Director of the Division of Brain Stimulation and Therapeutic Modulation, as Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Columbia University, he designed and performed open and sham-controlled trials of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Panic Disorder, Depersonalization Disorder, and Major Depression. He is an Associate Research Scientist at the Department of Psychiatry of Columbia University.

  • MT School for Advanced Studies Lucca (Italy)

    The role of the cerebellum in learning new visuomotor association tasks

    2019-2020: Fall

    Anna Ipata earned her medical degree with a specialization in Child Neurology and Psychiatry from the School of Medicine of the University of Pisa, Italy. She got her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Verona, Italy and completed post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Michael Goldberg at the National Institutes of Health. She worked as a research scientist in Michael Goldberg's laboratory in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University in New York. She is currently a visiting fellow at the IMT School for Advanced Studies in Lucca, Italy. 

    During her residency, Anna Ipata conducted research aimed towards the study of the visual functions in children with lesions of the visual cortex. As a PhD student, she studied the neuronal mechanisms of visual attention in primates by recording the activity of single neurons in the extrastriate visual cortex. In the laboratory of Professor Goldberg at the NIH, and later at Columbia University, she investigated the neuronal activity of visual search and eye movements by recording the activity of single neurons in the parietal cortex in monkeys. She is currently performing research in Professor Goldberg's laboratory focused on the study of the role of the cerebellum in visual motor learning by recording the activity of single units in the monkey’s cerebellum. In addition to her research, Anna Ipata works as a volunteer for the NGO Doctors for Africa where she is the co-PI of a project in the hospital of Tosamaganga, Iringa, Tanzania, aimed at improving the early detection of neurological impairment in newborns and infants.

  • Università degli Studi di Verona

    Neurophysiology of emotional memory


    Dr. Anna Ipata is at present an Associate Research Assistant at the Mahoney Center for Mind and Brain of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, with an interest in the study of the neuronal basis of visual and cognitive functions in humans and primates. Her research covers the study of visual functions in children with cerebral damage and single neuron recording in alert monkeys. Dr. Ipata took her medical degree at the University of Pisa, where she also completed her residency in Child Neurology and Psychiatry. During the residency, she performed studies focused on the early diagnosis of visual disorders in children with cortical damage, using psychophysical and neurophysiological techniques. After the residency she moved to the Department of Physiology and Vision of the University of Verona for a Ph.D. program in neuroscience. In Verona she studied the neural basis of visual attention in the visual cortex of non-human primates. After completing her Ph.D., she moved to the sensoriomotor research laboratory of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, where she worked as a postdoc under the supervision of Prof. Michael Goldberg. In 2002 she moved to Columbia University with Prof. Goldberg and set up a new laboratory of neurophysiology. Since her arrival in the US, the main focus of her research has been the study of the neuronal substrates of cognitive functions in non-human primates, in particular the role of the parietal cortex in the exploration of the visual scene in monkeys.

  • Universitat Pompeu Fabra

    The topology of mental states: combining big data science and graph theory to reveal neural networks for cognitive functions

    2017-2018: Fall

    After studying Philosophy and Cognitive Science in Naples, Mainz (bachelor), and Rome (master), Andrea obtained his PhD in Computational Neuroscience from the University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona (Spain). His PhD work focused on brain processes involved in decision confidence computation, using biophysical modeling and statistical analysis of neurophysiological data. Currently he is working at the Center for Brain and Cognition of the University Pompeu Fabra as a postdoctoral researcher. He is interested in applying mathematical modeling, machine learning and graph theory to explain the brain functions and dis-functions. To this aim, Andrea take a global approach, studying the brain as a whole in order to understand how different parts of the brain interact. In particular, he is interested in unraveling the networks underlying different mental states, brain disorders, and cognitive tasks.

    Web page:

  • Columbia University: Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc., New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI; U.S.A.)

    Identifying the neural correlates of fear generalization during development

    2019-2020: Fall and Spring

    Alexander Bodini Research Fellow in Developmental and Adolescent Psychiatry

    Dr. Alessia Mastrodonato works in Dr. Christine Ann Denny’s Laboratory at Columbia University as postdoctoral fellow. She got her degree in Neurobiology at Sapienza University of Rome and a PhD in Neuroscience at Catholic University School of Medicine in Rome.

    Her work focuses on investigating the mechanisms underlying ketamine-induced stress resilience and how individual memories are modified by ketamine administration. She is author of several papers in high impact factor journals, but most importantly, within two years of joining her lab at Columbia, she has published two first-authored manuscripts in Biological Psychiatry and Scientific Reports and co-author a third manuscript in Neuropsychopharmacology. In 2017, she was awarded the Rotary Global Grant to investigate the brain circuits underlying ketamine prophylactic efficacy, and, in 2018, she was awarded the Sackler Award by the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University to investigate ketamine effects during adolescence. Alessia was recently awarded the 2018 Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) to attend the SfN 2018 Conference and present her work on prophylactic ketamine. In addition to research, Alessia also enjoys organizing events and activities for the Columbia Postdoctoral Society (CUPS) at Columbia University, as she was recently elected chair of networking and community building. 

    During her stay at the Italian Academy, she will focus on identifying the neural ensembles underlying fear generalization during development in a murine preclinical model. In particular, she will investigate the brain circuits underlying fear generalization through behavioral and whole brain imaging analysis.

    For more publications:

  • Institut Jean Nicod


    The viewer as simulated artist

    2011-2012: Spring

    Alessandro Pignocchi studied Biology and Cognitive Science. He received a PhD in philosophy of art and cognitive science, directed by Roberto Casati, at the Institut Jean Nicod in Paris. His thesis supported the proposal that when perceiving a drawing we automatically simulate some aspects of the gesture of the draftsman and that this "motor perception" is a first step of the recovery of the draftsman's intentions. Furthermore, he discussed the consequence of the motor perception hypothesis for the learning of drawing and for the appreciation of drawings and pictures. Dr. Pignocchi recently published a book in which he claims that when perceiving an artwork we automatically and in part unconsciously attribute intentions to the artist, and that the details of the intentional process that we reconstruct determine all our experience of the artwork, including its perception. He is currently working on a second book in which he uses this intentional model to analyse a set of artworks, including movies, novels, comics and paintings.