Laila Craighero

Full Professor of Psychobiology


Degree in Psychology and PhD in Neuroscience.

From 2004 Researcher in Human Physiology and from 2007 Associate professor in Psychobiology and Psychophysiology at the University of Ferrara. From February 2015 she upgraded as Full Professor. She teaches Human Physiology and Psychobiology in different curricula at the University of Ferrara.

She has a long experience in behavioural and electrophysiological investigation in humans and she collaborated in single neuron recordings in monkeys.

Her research interest deals with the role that the motor system has in building and development of cognitive functions.

Until 2000 she worked at the Institute of Human Physiology in Parma contributing to investigations on the role that the mirror neuron system has on action recognition.

Successively, at the University of Ferrara this study was extended to speech comprehension ability, considering speech as a particular class of actions.

Furthermore, a personal interest has been devoted to the study of the neural mechanisms at the basis of orienting of attention, supporting the premotor theory of attention, which considers motor preparation the source of stimuli selection in space, and extending this theory from spatial orienting to graspable objects orienting. In particular, she demonstrated that a motor lesion, even if peripheral, or a temporary inability in executing a specific action, carries a deficit in the cognitive function that depends on the motor representation related to that action.

Recently, she is mainly interested in the development of sensorimotor representations in infants and in the role they have in cognitive development, in the role that actions’ consequences have in the coding of space and in facial expressions perception in normal adults, in psychiatric patients and during development.

She is reviewer of many international journals in the field of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology.

She participated with an organizational role to different projects funded by the European Commission and she published around 40 peer-reviewed publications on international Journals.

She is member of the International Organization of Psychophysiology and she is Steering Committee member of the Italian Society of Psychophysiology.

She is member of the Faculty of the School of Specialization in Psychiatry and of the PhD course in Biomedical sciences and biotechnology of the University of Ferrara.



International and national grants:

  • Programma di ricerca Regione-Università 2010-2012: ROLE OF REHABILITATION AFTER CEREBRAL DAMAGE (36 months) Head of Unit

  • PRIN 2010: I meccanismi neurocognitivi alla base delle interazioni sociali (36 months) Head of Unit

  • FP7-ICT-2007-1: Project no. 215843 The "Poetics" of Everyday Life: Grounding Resources and Mechanisms for Artificial Agents POETICON (36 months) Participant

  • FP6-2003-NEST-A: Project no. 5010 Learning and Development of CONTextual ACTion CONTACT (36 months) Scientific Coordinator

  • FP6-2003-IST-2: Project No. 004370 ROBotic Open-architecture Technology for Cognition, Understanding and Behaviors ROBOTCUB (60 months) Participant

  • FP6-2002-IST-1: Project no. 001917 The Fusion of Neuroscience and Robotics for Augmenting Human Capabilities NEUROBOTICS (48 months) Partecipant

  • IST-2000-28159 Mirror Neurons based Object Recognition MIRROR (30 months) Partecipant

  • FUTURO IN RICERCA 2008: MONKEY ROBOT RBFR0899A8_001 (48 months) Partecipant

  • PRIN 2002: Funzioni cognitive del sistema motorio (24 months) Partecipant

  • PRIN 2004: Cognizione e sistema motorio (24 months) Partecipant

  • PRIN 2006: Sistema motorio e funzioni cognitive (24 months) Partecipant

  • PRIN 2008: Cognizione motoria (24 months) Head of Unit


Scholarly indexes of performance

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Valentina Zorzi

Assegnista dal 2010 al 2012



Valentina Ghirardi

Assegnista  E-mail:



Sonia Mele

Assegnista  email:

I graduated in Psychology (five years degree) from the University of Padua with the thesis: "Introversion/extraversion and allocation of attentional resources: an event-related potential study", under the supervision of prof. Daniela Palomba. I then attended from 2004 to 2007 the XIX cycle PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Verona, under the supervision of prof. Giovanni Berlucchi. The main aims of the doctoral project were to show that subliminal visual stimuli can be processed without attention and affect relatively complex goal directed behaviors and to propose a revision of a currently popular model of the automatic orienting of visuospatial attention. After my doctorate, I was awarded several research fellowships at the University of Verona aimed at investigating the neural and cognitive aspects of visual attention. Since August 2011 I was for two years a post-doc fellow in the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (Body Lab Udine group) at the University of Udine under the supervision of dr. Cosimo Urgesi. There, I was involved in two projects, one related to the influence of perceptual experience on the aesthetic appreciation of the body and the other related to conscious and unconscious perception of human actions and motor cortex activation. In both projects I used behavioural and transcranial magnetic stimulation methods. I also co-supervised a PhD student and collaborated with other two post-doc fellows in the lab.

Since December 2013 I’ve been post-doc fellow at the University of Ferrara under the supervision of prof. Laila Craighero. Working in collaboration with the Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria of Ferrara I have been involved in two main projects, one related to motor recovery (effects of repetitive arm training combined with functional electrical stimulation on upper extremity motor recovery in sub-acute stroke survivors) and the other related to brain activity in patients in minimally conscious state (role of transcranial direct current stimulation in minimally conscious state). I have been collaborating in other projects, such as: i) the role of facial muscles activity in emotional elaboration; ii) effects of observing different kinematics on motor resonance; automatic and voluntary orientation of visuospatial attention related to the kinematics of the movement.

Research Interests

  • Processing of subliminal visual stimuli outside the focus of attention

  • Neural mechanisms of visuo-spatial attention

  • Neurofunctional Alterations of Body representation in Anorexia Nervosa

  • Conscious and unconscious perception of human actions

  • Observation of movement kinematics

  • Neural Basis of Corporeal Knowledge

  • Plasticity of Body Representations



Francesca Nardi

Tirocinante dal Febbraio - Giugno 2014

Born in Agordo 28 June 1991. Always lover of ballet and contemporary dance, I started dancing when I was five years old and I have never stopped. This passion has brought me to get closer to the world of Sports Science and Sports, deciding to undertake, in 2011, the university course at the Faculty of Scienze motorie, University of Ferrara. I have worked, as expected from my internship process of study, at the Section of Human Physiology University, followed by Prof. Craighero, in the period between February and June 2014. This was a wonderful opportunity that allowed me to get in touch and explore different neurophysiological aspects related to physical activity and more. I was involved in a project using TMS as a tool of evaluating a rehabilitation program. I graduated in July 2014 with the vote of 110/110 and laud, thanks to the thesis “Valutazione dell'eccitabilità corticospinale in seguito a terapia riabilitativa dell'arto superiore in soggetti con ictus in fase sub-acuta”. In September 2014 I enrolled in the graduate program ”Scienze e Tecniche dell’Attività Motoria Preventiva e Adattata” of the University of Ferrara where I'm studing in deep many aspects of the branch of rehabilitation, in which I hope to be able to work in the future.



Federica Rossi

Tirocinante da Novembre 2014 a Febbraio 2015

I graduated in Scienze Motorie at the Università degli Studi di Ferrara in 2015.

During my course of studies I spent a period of training at the Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Chirurgo Specialistiche from 20 November 2014 to 25 February 2015. I was involved in sensorimotor research studies using transcranical magnetic stimulation and reaction times recordings.

I would like to complete my studies with specialist degree adding an experience abroad.

Nowadays I am looking for a job that can let me use the knowledge learnt during my course of studies.