Learning and Memory
Name: Elisa Ciaramelli
Position: Associate 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: Viale Berti Pichat 5, 40127 Bologna (Dept); Viale Europa 980, 47023 Cesena (CsrNC)
Voice: (+39) 0547 338951
Facsimile: (+39) 0547 338952
My primary research interest is episodic memory. What are the mechanisms responsible for retrieval and re-experiencing of past events? How do we distinguish between actual records of past events and other mental products? How does memory reach consciousness? What neural mechanisms are shared between episodic memory and future thinking? I am particularly interested in the role the frontal lobe and the parietal lobe play during episodic memory retrieval, and how these structures interact with medial-temporal lobes. Another line of research involves decision-making, with particular interest to the social and moral domain. Here, too, the main interest is the interaction between memory and other processes for the shaping of choice. I use behavioral, neuropsychological, and functional neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques.
Key words: episodic memory and simulation; social cognition; decision-making; empathy; neuropsychology.
- 2007. PhD in Psychology. Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.
- 2003. Degree in Experimental Psychology, University of Florence, Italy.
Positions and Employment:
- 2014-present. Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.
- 2010-2014. Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.
- 2009-2010. Post-doc, Centro studi e ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive, Cesena, Italy
- 2007-2009 Post-doc, Rotman Research Institute and Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Canada
- 2003-2006. PhD student, University of Bologna, Italy.
1) Neural bases of self-projection
Self-projection is the ability to transcend the ongoing reality to re-experience or pre-experience alternative events. Self-projection is associated with activity in a network of brain regions, collectively known as the brain default network , which includes the medial prefrontal cortex, the lateral parietal cortex, and the medial temporal lobes. These regions are activated when individuals remember the past, imagine the future, imagine the perspective of other people, or mind-wander away from the task at hand. This research project investigates the cognitive and neural bases of self-projection, and aims to elucidate the role of specific nodes of the brain default network for self-projection.
2) Self-projection for decision-making
Decision-making may require pre-experiencing future outcomes in order to make balanced choices. Coherently, regions of the brain default network, known to support future thinking, are activated during complex decision-making, for example in the moral domain. Moreover, future thinking may modulate the valuation of future outcomes and appraisal of future events. This research project investigates the interaction of future thinking and decision-making, and aims to reveal when and how imagination of future events has an impact on the decision we make for the future.
1. Ciaramelli E, Bernardi F, Moscovitch M. (2013). Individualized Theory of Mind (iToM): When Memory Modulates Empathy. Front Psychol, 1;4:4.
2. Ciaramelli E., Sperotto, R., Mattioli, F., di Pellegrino, G. (2013). Damage to the ventromedial prefrontal damage reduces interpersonal disgust. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 8, 171-80.
3. Ciaramelli, E., Braghittoni, D., & di Pellegrino, G. (2012). It is the outcome that counts! Damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex disrupts the integration of outcome and belief information for moral judgment. J Int Neuropsychol Soc, 18, 962-71.
4. Cabeza R, Ciaramelli, E., Moscovitch, M. (2012). Cognitive Contributions of the Ventral Parietal Cortex: An Integrative Account. Trends in Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, 338-52.
5. Ciaramelli, E., & di Pellegrino, G. (2011). Ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the future of morality. Emotion Review, 3, 308-309.
6. Sellitto, M., Ciaramelli, E., & di Pellegrino, G. (2010). Myopic discounting of future rewards after medial orbitofrontal damage in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 16429-36.
7. Ciaramelli, E., Rosenbaum, R.S., Solcz, S., Levine, B., & Moscovitch, M. (2010). Mental space travel: Damage to posterior parietal cortex prevents egocentric navigation and reexperiencing of remote spatial memories. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn, 36, 619-34.
8. Ciaramelli, E., Grady, C., Levine, B., Ween, J, & Moscovitch, M. (2010). Top-down and bottom-up attention-to-memory are dissociated in posterior parietal cortex: fMRI and neuropsychological evidence. J Neurosci, 30, 4943-56.
9. Ciaramelli, E., Ghetti, S., & Borsotti, M. (2009). Divided attention during retrieval suppresses false recognition in confabulation. Cortex, 45, 141-153.
10. Ciaramelli E, Grady CL, & Moscovitch, M. (2008). Top-down and bottom-up attention to memory: a hypothesis (AtoM) on the role of the posterior parietal cortex in memory retrieval. Neuropsychologia, 46, 1828-51.