Elena Serena Piccardi

Lecturer in Developmental Psychology
Elena is now based at the University of East London, School of Psychology
Email contact: E.S.Piccardi@uel.ac.uk

Website: https://www.uel.ac.uk/about-uel/staff/elena-serena-piccardi



I investigate the early development of sensory perception in infants at elevated likelihood of ASD and/or ADHD and infants at typical likelihood of the conditions. I am interested in characterizing the factors that determine contextual and individual differences in sensory sensitivity and seeking sensory input. Further, I am interested in understanding the impact of early sensory atypicalities on later social and cognitive development. To this end, I assess the longitudinal relationships between early neural markers of sensory processing (in the visual, auditory, and tactile modalities), parent questionnaires and clinical tools. This investigation can inform our understanding of the aetiologies of the conditions and lay the translational foundations for the development of early intervention protocols.




PhD in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience



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



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


Teaching Assistant/Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London



Graduate Teaching Assistant at Birkbeck, University of London



Freelance Education Consultant


Conference proceedings & talks

Tactile processing and sleep in early development: understanding common underlying mechanisms.Cognition and Neuroscience Research Meeting, School of Psychology, University of East London.
Infants’ processing of distractors is associated with group-coherent modulation of occipital gamma bursts (2021). Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Virtual. Author list: Gal, C., Piccardi, ES., Smith, M., Muresan, R., Gliga, T.

Talking sense”: what sensory processing atypicalities tell us about Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (2021). Sensory Processing Interest Group Invited Talk, King’s College London, Virtual.

The application of EEG in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience research (2019). Higher Education Academy Seminar, London.

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, E. S., & Gliga, T. (2021, November 10). Understanding sensory regulation in typical and atypical development: The case of sensory seeking. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/tg2xw

Piccardi, ES., Begum Ali, J., Jones, EJH., Mason, L., Charman, T., Johnson, M.H., Gliga, T., & BASIS/STAARS Team (2021), 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

The Predictive Learning Study: Understanding media choices in early development (2021) Link

"Autism predicted by how babies' brains respond to touch" (2021) Link

“Understanding why some children enjoy TV more than others” (2020, in collaboration with University of East Anglia and University of Cambridge). Link

“Spotlight of student research”, INSAR (2019). Link

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

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