Research

My research broadly focuses on how the human mind masters language and reading, and how this shows up in our brain. More specifically, I study in particular the visual identification of complex words — how is it that we identify the letter sequence D, E, A, L, E, and R as something familiar to us, and how we get to know that those letters refer to someone who sell and buy things — and the mental representation of grammatical classes — how do we know that nouns and verbs goes in different places within sentences and how we use this information to understand what people say. Both things are quite related to how we diagnose and treat cognitive impairments as emerging from brain damage or from atypical learning pathways in kids; in this sense, my research into language and reading is both fundamental and applied.

I am also interested in research methodology and statistics, and in particular in how general knowledge should be extracted from actual data, how psychological experiments should be designed so as to be maximally informative, how clinical tests should be standardised, and how brain data can be used to inform theories of human cognition.

Because, very clearly, I was not busy enough, the advent of Roberto Bottini in my lab widened my research interests further. Together, we recently started studying how perceptual experience shapes the way we think about abstract concepts such as time and numbers, and how we process stimuli that remain outside our awareness (also call by fancy people “subliminal cognition”).

This is all carried out with a strong interdisciplinary approach. I study unimpaired people as well as brain-damaged patients and children with atypical learning, and make use of techniques as diverse as behavioural response-time experiments, psychophysics, eye-tracking, ERP, fMRI, and computational models. Most generally, I believe in problem-centered science, which implies focusing on specific questions and addressing them using a bunch of different methodological approaches (which all have strengths and weaknesses).

This blurb was aimed at giving you a quick snapshot into what I do. If you want more details, please take a look at my papers here. If, instead, you need something even more direct and effortless, there’s a wordle right here below:

Wordle