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Neuropsychology and neuromodulation of cognitive, affective and social functions in neurodevelopmental disorders

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Research Area


Dott.ssa Alessandra Finisguerra
Psychologist, Researcher
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Cosimo Urgesi
Associate Professor - Developmental psychopathology
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Sara Boscarol
Psychologist, Research fellow, Pasian di Prato
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Niccolò Butti
Psychologist, PhD student, Bosisio Parini
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 Viola Oldrati
Psychologist, Research collaborator, Bosisio Parini
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Elisabetta Ferrari
Psychologist, Research fellow, Bosisio Parini
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Verusca Gasparroni
Physiatrist, PhD student, Pasian di Prato
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+39 0432 24988



The aim of the research group in Clinical Neuropsychology is to study, using neurophysiological and psychophysics methods the bases and outcomes of neuropsychological rehabilitation. >To this aim, we have standardized in Italian Language an international neuropsychological battery for the evaluation of children aged 3-16 years (NEPSY-II, Giunti OS) and we have been running validation studies of the battery in clinical populations (e.g., preterm children,, epilepsy, autism, anorexia nervosa). We have also established a Laboratory of Magnetic Brain Stimulation, in collaboration with the University of Udine, the hospital Gervasutta, Udine. The laboratory is dedicated to basic and clinical research studies of the neural underpinnings of body and action representations and the alterations of social perception in psychiatric disorders, to the study of the neurophysiological bases of motor learning and of the interindividual differences in personality traits.

Selected publications

  • Bianco, V., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2022). Updating implicit contextual priors with explicit learning for the prediction of social and physical events. Brain and Cognition, 160, 105876. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2022.105876
  • Butti, N., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2022). Holistic processing of body stimuli: Evidence of body composite illusion in adults and children. Developmental Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0001353
  • Betti, S., Finisguerra, A., Amoruso, L., & Urgesi, C. (2021). Contextual Priors Guide Perception and Motor Responses to Observed Actions. Cerebral Cortex, bhab241. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhab241
  • D’Argenio, G., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2021). Experience-dependent reshaping of body gender perception. Psychological Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-021-01569-4
  • Finisguerra, A., Ticini, L. F., Kirsch, L. P., Cross, E. S., Kotz, S. A., & Urgesi, C. (2021). Dissociating embodiment and emotional reactivity in motor responses to artworks. Cognition, 212, 104663. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104663
  • Oldrati, V., Finisguerra, A., Avenanti, A., Aglioti, S. M., & Urgesi, C. (2021). Differential Influence of the Dorsal Premotor and Primary Somatosensory Cortex on Corticospinal Excitability during Kinesthetic and Visual Motor Imagery: A Low-Frequency Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Study. Brain Sciences, 11(9), 1196. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11091196
  • Urgesi, C., Butti, N., Finisguerra, A., Biffi, E., Valente, E. M., Romaniello, R., & Borgatti, R. (2021). Social prediction in pediatric patients with congenital, non-progressive malformations of the cerebellum: From deficits in predicting movements to rehabilitation in virtual reality. Cortex, 144, 82–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2021.08.008
  • Oldrati, V., Ferrari, E., Butti, N., Cattaneo, Z., Borgatti, R., Urgesi, C., & Finisguerra, A. (2021). How social is the cerebellum? Exploring the effects of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation on the prediction of social and physical events. Brain Structure and Function. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-020-02198-0
  • Urgesi, C., Butti, N., Finisguerra, A., Biffi, E., Valente, E. M., Romaniello, R., & Borgatti, R. (2021). Neuropsychological assessment and virtual reality training of social prediction in patients with cerebellar malformation [Preprint]. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.19.427247
  • Farmer, A. D., Strzelczyk, A., Finisguerra, A., Gourine, A. V., Gharabaghi, A., Hasan, A., et al.. International consensus based review and recommendations for minimum reporting standards in research on transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (version 2020). Accepted in Front. Hum. Neurosci. 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2020.568051
  • Butti, N., Biffi, E., Genova, C., Romaniello, R., Redaelli, D. F., Reni, G., Borgatti, R., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Virtual Reality Social Prediction Improvement and Rehabilitation Intensive Training (VR-SPIRIT) for paediatric patients with congenital cerebellar diseases: Study protocol of a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 21(1), 82. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-4001-4
  • Amoruso, L., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Spatial frequency tuning of motor responses reveals differential contribution of dorsal and ventral systems to action comprehension. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201921512. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1921512117
  • Butti, N., Montirosso, R., Giusti, L., Borgatti, R., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Premature birth affects visual body representation and body schema in preterm children. Brain and Cognition, 145, 105612. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2020.105612
  • Bianco, V.*, Finisguerra, A.*, Betti, S., D’Argenio, G., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Autistic Traits Differently Account for Context-Based Predictions of Physical and Social Events. Brain Sciences, 10(7), 418. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10070418 (* equal contribution)
  • Butti, N., Corti, C., Finisguerra, A., Bardoni, A., Borgatti, R., Poggi, G., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Cerebellar Damage Affects Contextual Priors for Action Prediction in Patients with Childhood Brain Tumor. The Cerebellum. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12311-020-01168-w
  • Finisguerra, A., Amoruso, L., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Beyond Automatic Motor Mapping: New Insights into Top-Down Modulations on Action Perception. In N. Noceti, A. Sciutti, & F. Rea (A c. Di), Modelling Human Motion (pagg. 33–51). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46732-6_3
  • Corti, C., Urgesi, C., Massimino, M., Gandola, L., Bardoni, A., & Poggi, G. (2020). Effects of supratentorial and infratentorial tumor location on cognitive functioning of children with brain tumor. Child’s Nervous System, 36(3), 513–524. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00381-019-04434-3
  • Corti, C., Urgesi, C., Poggi, G., Strazzer, S., Borgatti, R., & Bardoni, A. (2020). Home-based cognitive training in pediatric patients with acquired brain injury: Preliminary results on efficacy of a randomized clinical trial. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1391. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-57952-5
  • Oldrati, V., Bardoni, A., Poggi, G., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Influence of Attention Control on Implicit and Explicit Emotion Processing of Face and Body: Evidence From Flanker and Same-or-Different Paradigms. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2971. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02971
  • Oldrati, V., Corti, C., Poggi, G., Borgatti, R., Urgesi, C., & Bardoni, A. (2020). Effectiveness of Computerized Cognitive Training Programs (CCTP) with Game-like Features in Children with or without Neuropsychological Disorders: A Meta-Analytic Investigation. Neuropsychology Review, 30(1), 126–141. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11065-020-09429-5
  • D’Argenio, G., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2020). Motion and Gender-Typing Features Interact in the Perception of Human Bodies. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 14, 277. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2020.00277
  • Amoruso, L., & Finisguerra, A. (2019). Low or High-Level Motor Coding? The Role of Stimulus Complexity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13, 332. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00332
  • Amoruso, L., Narzisi, A., Pinzino, M., Finisguerra, A., Billeci, L., Calderoni, S., Fabbro, F., Muratori, F., Volzone, A., & Urgesi, C. (2019). Contextual priors do not modulate action prediction in children with autism. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 286(1908), 20191319. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.1319
  • Finisguerra, A., Crescentini, C., & Urgesi, C. (2019). Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation Affects Implicit Spiritual Self-Representations. Neuroscience, 412, 144–159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.05.059
  • Finisguerra, A., Borgatti, R., & Urgesi, C. (2019). Non-invasive Brain Stimulation for the Rehabilitation of Children and Adolescents With Neurodevelopmental Disorders: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00135
  • Butti, N., Montirosso, R., Giusti, L., Piccinini, L., Borgatti, R., & Urgesi, C. (2019). Early Brain Damage Affects Body Schema and Person Perception Abilities in Children and Adolescents with Spastic Diplegia. Neural Plasticity, 2019, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/1678984
  • Corti, C., Oldrati, V., Oprandi, M. C., Ferrari, E., Poggi, G., Borgatti, R., Urgesi, C., & Bardoni, A. (2019). Remote Technology-Based Training Programs for Children with Acquired Brain Injury: A Systematic Review and a Meta-Analytic Exploration. Behavioural Neurology, 2019, 1–31. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/1346987
  • Venchiarutti, M., Vergine, M., Zilli, T., Sommariva, G., Gortan, A. J., Crescentini, C., Urgesi, C., Fabbro, F., & Cogo, P. (2019). Neuropsychological Impairment in Children With Class 1 Congenital Heart Disease. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 126(5), 797–814. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031512519856766
  • Butti, N., Montirosso, R., Borgatti, R., & Urgesi, C. (2018). Maternal sensitivity is associated with configural processing of infant’s cues in preterm and full-term mothers. Early Human Development, 125, 35–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2018.08.018
  • Corti, C., Poggi, G., Massimino, M., Bardoni, A., Borgatti, R., & Urgesi, C. (2018). Visual perception and spatial transformation of the body in children and adolescents with brain tumor. Neuropsychologia, 120, 124–136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.10.012
  • Amoruso, L., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2018). Autistic traits predict poor integration between top-down contextual expectations and movement kinematics during action observation. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 16208. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-33827-8
  • Amoruso, L., Finisguerra, A., & Urgesi, C. (2018). Contextualizing action observation in the predictive brain: Causal contributions of prefrontal and middle temporal areas. NeuroImage, 177, 68–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.020
  • Corti, C., Poggi, G., Romaniello, R., Strazzer, S., Urgesi, C., Borgatti, R., & Bardoni, A. (2018). Feasibility of a home-based computerized cognitive training for pediatric patients with congenital or acquired brain damage: An explorative study. PLOS ONE, 13(6), e0199001. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199001
  • Finisguerra A., Amoruso L., Makris S., & Urgesi C. (2018). Dissociated Representations of Deceptive Intentions and Kinematic Adaptations in the Observer’s Motor System. Cerebral Cortex, 28(1), 33–47. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhw346


  • BodyLabUdinE (BLUE), Laboratorio di Neuroscienze Cognitive, Dipartimento d Lingue e Letterature, Comunicazione, Formazione e Società, Università di Udine (bodylabudine.uniud.it)
  • Dottorato di Ricerca in Neuroscienze e Scienze Cognitive, Università di Trieste
  • Fondazione IRCCS Stella Maris (Prof. Antonio Narzisi)
  • NOI - Neuropsychology of Interactions network http://www.neuropsychologyofinteractions.org/noi.php
  • SCALab, Sciences Cognitives & Sciences Affectives, Université de Lille, Francia
  • School of Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
  • Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, San Sebastian, Spagna


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