Elena Serena Piccardi

PhD Student & Graduate Teaching Assistant

Research project

My research investigates the early development of sensory perception in typical and atypical populations. The goal of my project is to characterize the factors that determine contextual and individual differences in reactivity to and seeking of sensory input in typically developing infants and infants at familial risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Further, I am interested in understanding the impact of early sensory atypicality on children’s social development. To this goal, I am assessing the longitudinal relationships between early neural markers of sensory processing (in the visual, auditory and tactile modalities), parent questionnaires and clinical tools. I hope this investigation will yield insight into the developmental origins of the disorders, contemporarily informing optimal time frames and target areas for intervention.



Dr. Teodora Gliga & Prof. Mark H. Johnson




Postgraduate certificate in Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education – Higher Education Academy



PhD in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience



MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience & Clinical Neuropsychology – Distinction



BSc in Clinical Psychology - Distinction


Research experience


Research assistant at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development

Project: “A retrospective study on children’s language development”



Research internship at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development

Project: “Studying ASD and ADHD risks in siblings”



Research assistant at Harvard Medical School

Project: “The development and the neural bases of emotion processing”



Research assistant at the University of Padova 

Project: “The emergence of cognitive specialization for agency perception”


Teaching experience


Graduate teaching assistant at Birkbeck, University of London



Private academic tutor at Tavistock Tutors 


Conference proceedings & talks

Explaining individual differences in infant visual sensory seeking(2019) Neurodevelopmental Disorders Seminar Series, Surrey 

Top-down or bottom-up? Explaining differences in sensory profiles in typical development(2019) BCCCD Annual Conference, Budapest

Application of inter-trial coherence methods to investigate early visual processing in infant siblings of children diagnosed with ASD or ADHD(2018) International Society for Autism Research, Rotterdam

Neurocognitive and parent-reported markers of tactile processing in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched control infants(2018) BASIS Annual Science Meeting, London

Visual hypersensitivity in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD: do top-down influences matter?(2018) Early Trajectories of Typical and Atypical Development Meeting, London

Early markers of tactile processing in infant siblings of children with ASD and ADHD(2018) Neurodevelopmental Disorders Seminar Series, Coventry 

The role of early mechanisms of sensory information sampling in driving variability in brain developmental trajectories(2017) Centre for Brain & Cognitive Development, London

The role of alpha-band brain oscillations as a somatosensory gating mechanism: evidence from infants at high familial  risk of ASD or ADHD and low risk controls(2017) Cutting-EEG Symposium, University of Glasgow

Early visual evoked potentials in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls(2017) Annual meeting of Cognitive Science Society, London

Tactile Sensory Gating in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls(2017) International Society for Autism Research, San Francisco

Visuo-spatial orienting triggered by biological motion: ERP evidence from 6-month-old infants, (2016), Lancaster Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster



Piccardi, ES., Begum Ali, J., Jones, EJH., Mason, L., Charman, T., Johnson, M.H., Gliga, T., & BASIS/STAARS Team (under review), Behavioural and neural markers of tactile sensory processing in infants at elevated likelihood of Autism Spectrum Disorders and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Piccardi, ES., Johnson, M.H., Gliga, T., (2020), Explaining individual differences in infant visual sensory seeking. Infancy.

Lunghi, M., Piccardi, ES., Richards, J., Simion, F., (2019), The neural correlates of orienting to walking direction in 6-month-old  infants: an ERP study. Developmental Science.


Public engagement

“Spotlight of student research”, INSAR (2019)


“Top Tips for Delivering a Mesmerising Academic Presentation” (2019)


“A Londra Elena studia le cellule cerebrali” (native language article) (2017)