Elena Serena Piccardi

PhD Student

Research interests

My research interests revolve around understanding the neurocognitive and behavioral mechanisms that, interacting with genetic and environmental factors, drive variability in the developmental trajectory throughout infancy and childhood.

I am interested in the early development of basic sensory functions supporting information sampling and their cascading effects on perceptual and socio-cognitive learning. This interest spans both typical and atypical development.

My research questions centre on the following topics:

  • Nature and role of the interplay between bottom-up mechanisms (low level sensory precision) and top-down mechanisms (high level contextual expectancy) in supporting the early development of perceptual and socio-cognitive learning in infants at familial risk of developing ASD, ADHD and infants without a family history of neurodevelopmental disorders.
  • Neurophysiologically plausible scheme explaining this hierarchical message passing interplay in typical cohorts and possible early markers of its aberrations in infants at familial risk of developing ASD and ADHD.

My research methods are neural techniques (EEG-ERPs) and behavioral techniques (eye-tracking and behavioral assessment scales).

Research experience

June 2016 – October 2016

Research Assistant at the Centre for Brain and 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 and 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 Birkbeck, University of London

Academic activity: Teaching activity for BSc and MSc students in Psychology carried out at Birkbeck, University of London

Academic areas: Introduction to Research Methods, Advanced Research Methods

 

Technical Experience

October 2016-Present

Technical activity: EEG (EGI System) Babylab management

 

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

 

Awards

2015-2016

Visiting research assistantship scholarship in the field of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience awarded by the European Commission for Training & Education

 

2013-2015

MSc studentship offered by Bim Oglio Foundation based on academic standing

 

2013

BSc graduation award offered by the University of Bergamo based on academic standing

 

Conference proceedings

2017       

Piccardi, E.S., Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., Tactile sensory gating in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls

International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), San Francisco

 

Piccardi, E.S., Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., 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 (CuttingEEG), Glasgow

 

Piccardi, E.S., Johnson, M.H, Gliga, T., Early visual evoked potentials in infant siblings of children with ASD or ADHD and age-matched controls

Cognitive Science Society Meeting, Computational Foundations of Cognition (CogSci), London

 

2016

Piccardi, E.S., Lunghi, M., Simion, F., Visuo-spatial orienting triggered by biological motion direction: ERP evidence from 6-month-old infants

XXIV Biennal Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD), Vilnius; V Edition Rovereto Conference on Cognition and Evolution (CogEvo), Trento; XXIX National Congress on Developmental Psychology (AIP), Padova; I Lancaster Conference on Infant and Child Development (LCICD), Lancaster.