Photo by Luigi Ghirri

Affiliations, Editorial activity, Funding


At Sapienza University of Rome

q      In Rome, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Italian National Research Council (ISTC-CNR), Rome

Professional Societies:

Editorial Board:

Cognitive Science (board of reviewers)
Frontiers in Psychology (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology) 
Sistemi intelligenti

Eu Project Coordinator:

I have coordinated an EU project, ROSSI. March 2008 - February 2011, ROSSI project, Emergence of communication in RObots through Sensorimotor and Social Interaction (EU, FP7, call Cognitive Systems and Robotics.)

Abstract of the ROSSI project
Starting from the assumption that cognition is embodied, the ROSSI project addresses the question how the possibility of communication between agents (e.g. humans and robots) is affected by differences in sensorimotor capacities. This is an important issue, given that robots are expected to become more common in nonstructured environments, such as homes or hospitals. While there is a trend towards humanoid robots, it is clear that for the foreseeable future there will still be substantial differences in physical embodiment between robots and humans.
To explore to what extent concepts must be shared to facilitate communication, we will build robots with sensorimotor systems structurally roughly similar to human beings. Furthermore, the control mechanisms for these robots will be based on insights into the neural mechanisms underlying human concepts and language.
In particular, two types of neurons in premotor cortex will be modelled: (1) canonical neurons, which are active during both the execution of specific object-directed actions and the mere visual observation of the same objects, and (2) mirror neurons, which are involved in both an agent?s own actions and the visual observation of such actions performed by others.
In this framework, the project?s aims are twofold. First, behavioural and neurophysiological experiments will provide new evidence and insights into the grounding of human conceptualization and language. Second, computational modelling of the underlying neural mechanisms will provide novel approaches to grounding of robotic conceptualization and language.
More specifically, the project aims at building robots endowed with the sensorimotor and neural/computational mechanisms that allow them to: (a) flexibly manipulate and use objects in the environment, (b) use a simple form of language, i.e. nouns and verbs referring to objects and object-oriented actions, (c) use such concepts and verbal labels in social interaction with humans.

1. (coordinator) - Alma Mater Studiorum ? Università di Bologna - UNIBO Italy
2 Università degli Studi di Parma PRM Italy
3 Universität zu Lübeck ITM Germany
4 Högskolan i Skövde HIS Sweden
5 Middle East Technical University METU Turkey
6 Aberystwyth University AU United Kingdom

National Projects Coordinator:

2006-08 PRIN, coordination of the Bologna ? Department of Psychology Unit. Title of the project of the unit: language, objects and motor system: the role of affordances.

2008-2011 PRIN, coordination of the Bologna - Department of Psychology Unit. Title of the project of the unit: Language and different natural languages: between embodied cognition and social cognition