Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy
Supervisors: E. Ciaramelli
The main line of research involves unveiling workings, neural bases, and functions of the episodic memory system. Episodic memory refers to encoding of specific past episodes, and to the characteristic experience of travelling in time mentally to retrieve and re-experience those events. Several evidence indicates that episodic memory is necessary to imagine, and pre-experience, personal plausible future events. Current questions involve the role of different subregions of prefrontal cortex in constructing and monitoring episodic remembering and future thinking, and the role of the posterior parietal cortex in attending to the (re-)constructed episodes. Another line of research involves how we put episodic memory and future thinking to use, for example during decision-making. Mounting evidence suggests that simulating future events helps making good decisions. We are currently investigating whether vivid imagination of future events can reduce temporal discounting, the tendency to prefer immediate over delayed gratification, and whether it contributes to shape our moral judgment and empathic responses. To tackle these experimental questions, we use behavioral, neuropsychological (brain lesion), and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques.