Ciaramelli, Elisa

Learning and Memory



Name: Elisa Ciaramelli
Email address: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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, Faggi G, Scarpazza C, Mattioli F, Spaniol J, Ghetti S, Moscovitch M (2017). Subjective recollection independent from multifeatural context retrieval following damage to the posterior parietal cortex. Cortex 2017 Apr 1. [Epub]
2. Bertossi E, Tesini C, Cappelli A, Ciaramelli E (2016). Ventromedial prefrontal damage causes a pervasive impairment of episodic memory and future thinking. Neuropsychologia 90, 12-24.
3. Bertossi E, Aleo F, Braghittoni D, Ciaramelli E (2016). Stuck in the here and now: Construction of fictitious and future experiences following ventromedial prefrontal damage. Neuropsychologia 81, 107-16.
4. 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.
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.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.

EU Cookie Directive Module Information