Elena Serena Piccardi

PhD Student

Research interests

The aim of my research project is that of characterizing the role of early mechanisms of sensory information sampling in driving variability in brain developmental trajectories. To this aim, my investigation covers multiple sensory modalities (i.e., visual, tactile and auditory) and integrates a variety of methods (i.e., advanced EEG, eye-tracking, behavioural observations, parent-reported measures and clinical tools). The main research questions my project addresses centre on the following:

  • Nature and role of the interplay between bottom-up mechanisms (i.e., sensory precision) and top-down mechanisms (i.e., contextual expectancy) in driving the development of perceptual and socio-cognitive skills in infant siblings of children diagnosed with ASD or ADHD and infants without a family history of the disorders;
  • Neurophysiological scheme supporting this hierarchical interplay in typical cohorts and possible early markers of its atypicality in infant siblings of children diagnosed with ASD or ADHD.

 

Research experience

June 2016 – October 2016
Research assistant at the Centre for Brain & Cognitive Development
Research project: “A retrospective study linking subcortical auditory processing in childhood to early language development in infancy”
Supervisors: Prof. Denis Mareschal, Dr. Teodora Gliga, Dr. Adam Taylor Tierney

November 2015 – October 2016
Visiting research assistant at the Centre for Brain & Cognitive Development
Research project: “Studying ASD and ADHD risks in siblings”
Supervisors: Prof. Mark Johnson & Dr. Teodora Gliga

May 2015 – September 2015
Visiting research assistant at Harvard Medical School
Research project: “The development and the neural bases of emotion processing”
Supervisor: Prof. Charles Nelson

June 2014 – May 2015
MSc student /research assistant
Research project: “The emergence of cortical specialization for agency perception: a neuroconstructivistic approach”
Supervisor: Prof. Francesca Simion

 

Teaching experience

October 2016-Present
Graduate teaching assistant at the Department of Psychological Science, Birkbeck University of London
Modules: Introduction to Research Methods (BSc & MSc), Advanced Research Methods (BSc & MSc)

October 2016-Present
Learning & teaching support tutor at the Department of Psychological Science, Birkbeck University of London
Activity: drop-in tutoring sessions for Introduction to Research Methods (BSc & MSc) students

 

Technical experience

October 2016-Present
Babylab EEG management
Activity: Net testing & repairing

 

Education

2016-Present
Birkbeck, University of London
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

2013-2015
University of Padova
Master of Science (MSc), Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology, Distinction

2010-2013
University of Bergamo
Bachelor of Science (BSc), Clinical Psychology, Distinction

 

Conference proceedings (Oral & Poster)
Piccardi, E.S, Jones, E.J.H., Charman, T., Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., & BASIS Team (2018), Neurocognitive and parent-reported markers of tactile processing in infant siblings of children diagnosed with ASD or ADHD. Birkbeck Graduate Research School “Three Minutes Thesis & Poster Competition”, Birkbeck, London (UK).
Piccardi, E.S, Jones, E.J.H., Charman, T., Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., & BASIS Team (2018), Application of inter-trial coherence methods to investigate early visual processing in infants at risk for ASD or ADHD. International Annual Meeting for Autism Research (INSAR), Rotterdam (NL).
Piccardi, E.S, Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., (2017), Tactile sensory gating in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls. International Meeting for autism research, San Francisco (USA).
Piccardi, E.S, Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., (2017), The role of alpha-band brain oscillations as a somatosensory gating mechanism: evidence from infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls. Cutting EEG Symposium, Glasgow (UK).
Piccardi, E.S, Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., (2017), Early visual evoked potentials in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls. Cognitive Science Society Meeting, London (UK).
Piccardi, E.S, Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., (2017), Visual sampling of low-level information in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls. Erice workshop, “Harnessing Early Adaptive Neuroplasticity for Intervention in Atypical Development”, Erice (IT).
Piccardi, E.S, Lunghi, M., Simion, F., (2016), Visuo-spatial orienting triggered by biological motion direction: ERP evidence from 6-month-old infants. XXIV Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Vilnius (LT). V Edition Rovereto Conference on Cognition and Evolution, Trento (IT). XXIX National Congress on Developmental Psychology, Padova (IT). I Lancaster Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster (UK).

 

Talks
Piccardi, E.S. (2017), The role of early mechanisms of sensory information sampling in driving variability in brain developmental trajectories. CBCD Seminar Series, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck University of London, London (UK).
Piccardi, E.S. (2017), Application of EEG methods in developmental cognitive neuroscience research. Training lecture for students in Neuroimaging methods (MSc), Birkbeck University of London, London (UK). Co-responsible with Dr. Carina De Clerk & Dr. Teodora Gliga.

 

Publications
Lunghi, M., Piccardi, E.S., Richards, J., Simion, F., (in revision), The neural correlates of orienting to walking direction in 6-month-old infants: an ERP study. Developmental Science.

 

Awards
2016-2018

International society for autism research (INSAR) student award
Award offered by INSAR for attending the international annual meeting for autism research, Rotterdam (NL)

Birkbeck, University of London full-tuition PhD scholarship
Full-tuition & maintenance scholarship towards a PhD in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience offered by the Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck University of London, London (UK)

Brainview training school for advanced neuroimaging award
Award offered by the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development for attending the Brainview Training School on Infant Neuroimaging, London (UK)

Lancaster university conference award
Award offered by Lancaster University for attending the First Lancaster Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster (UK)

Birkbeck-UCL NIRS training Award
Award offered by the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development for attending the Birkbeck-UCL Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) training course, London (UK)

European Commission for Training & Education ERASMUS fellowship
Fellowship offered by the ERASMUS Traineeship program supporting research activity at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck University of London, London (UK)

 

2013-2015

BIM Oglio Foundation MSc merit studentship
MSc merit studentships offered by the BIM Oglio Foundation based on academic standing (IT)

University of Bergamo BSc merit studentship
BSc merit studentship offered by the University of Bergamo based on academic standing (IT)