Social Cognitive Neuroscience
Name: Giuseppe di Pellegrino
Position: Full Professor
Primary affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Bologna
More Affiliations: Centro studi e ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive (CsrNC), Cesena (see my CsrCN personal page)
Postal address: Via Berti Pichat, 5, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Voice: (+39) 0547 338951
Facsimile: (+39) 0547 338952
My research focuses on the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognitive and affective control of behavior, and their disturbance in neurological patients. The main goal of the laboratory is to investigate how the interplay between thought and feeling shapes one’s decision-making processes, both at the individual and social level. For these studies, our participants include healthy control subjects, neurological patients with circumscribed brain lesion, and more recently subjects suffering from psychiatric disorders, which invariably involve complex interactions between disturbances of cognition and emotion.
Key words: cognitive control; emotion; decision-making; frontal lobe; lesion studies.
- 1994: PhD in Neuroscience, University of Parma, Italy.
- 1990: Specialization in Neurology, University of Modena, Italy.
- 1985: Degree in Medicine, University of Modena, Italy.
Positions and Employment:
- 2011–to present. Full Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.
- 2004–2011. Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.
- 2002-2004. Associate Professor, Institute of Psychology, University of Urbino, Italy.
- 2000-2001. Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Wales, Bangor, U.K.
- 1998-1999. Associate Professor, Institute of Psychology, University of Urbino, Italy.
- 1995-1998. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.
Neurobiology of decisions
Our projects aim at identifying the functional and neural mechanisms of reinforcement learning and motivational processes that control volitional, or goal-directed, action. This issue is pivotal for our understanding of the role that the integration of cognitive and emotional systems plays in executive functions and decision-making in humans. At the neural level we are particularly interested in exploring the role of different sectors of the frontal cortex in both goal-directed and habitual actions, using evidence from neurophysiological (EEG) and loss-of-function studies, in neurological patients with focal brain damage, and in healthy subjects in whom noninvasive brain stimulation technique is used to decrease cortical excitability in the targeted brain regions. To these aims, we use both classical (Pavlovian) and instrumental conditioning procedures, motivational manipulations, and tests of stimulus-outcome and action-outcome encoding - the basic associative processes underlying Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning. Currently, we are interested in exploring 1) the role of the prefrontal cortex in the integration of cognitive and emotional processes necessary for normal decision-making, and the behavioral changes that emerge following selective brain damage of this brain region; 2) the control exerted by environmental cues on instrumental action selection, specifically, the psychological processes and neural mechanisms underlying Pavlovian Instrumental transfer (i.e., PIT), and 3) the role of the somatosensory ad insular cortex in regulating the somatic and emotional processes through which the reward value of events is encoded.
1. Sellitto M, di Pellegrino G (2014). Errors affect hypothetical intertemporal food choice in women. PLoS One 9, 1-9.
2. Garofalo S, Maier ME, di Pellegrino G (2014). Mediofrontal negativity signals unexpected omission of aversive events. Scientific Reports 4, 1-7.
3. Scarpazza C, di Pellegrino G, Ladavas E (2014). Emotional modulation of touch in alexithymia. Emotion, 14, 602-610.
4. Mengarelli F, Spoglianti S, Avenanti A, di Pellegrino G (2013). Cathodal tDCS over the left prefrontal cortex diminishes choice-induced preference change. Cerebral Cortex, Nov 24.
5. Ciaramelli E, Sperotto RG, Mattioli F, di Pellegrino G (2013). Damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex reduces interpersonal disgust. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 171-80.
6. Teneggi C, Canzoneri E, di Pellegrino G, Serino A (2013). Social modulation of peripersonal space boundaries. Current Biology, 23, 406-11.
7. di Pellegrino G, Magarelli S, Mengarelli F (2011). Food pleasantness affects visual selective attention. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Colchester) 64, 560-571.
8. Sellitto M, Ciaramelli E, di Pellegrino G (2010). Myopic discounting of future rewards after medial orbitofrontal damage in humans. Journal of Neuroscience 30, 16429-16436.
9. Moretti L, di Pellegrino G (2010). Disgust selectively modulates reciprocal fairness in economic interactions. Emotion 10, 169-180.
10. Moretto G, Làdavas E, Mattioli F, di Pellegrino G (2010). A psychophysiological investigation of moral judgment after ventromedial prefrontal damage. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 22, 1888-1899.