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Alessandro D'Ausilio

Affiliated Researcher


CTNSC@UniFe Ferrara


Via Fossato di Mortara, 17/19


I studied Experimental Psychology and obtained a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the Sapienza University of Rome (2007 - Prof. Olivetti Belardinelli). During my Ph.D. I spent extended research periods both at MIT (Brain and Cognitive Science Department, McGovern Institute for Brain Research - Prof. Bizzi) and the Eberhart-Karls-Universität in Tübingen (Institut für Medizinische Psychologie und Verhaltensneurobiologie - Prof. Birbaumer and Prof. Lotze). Soon after the Ph.D. I received a three-years postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Ferrara (Section of Human Physiology - Prof. Fadiga and Prof. Craighero). I later joined the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genova, first as a Senior Post-doc (Prof. Sandini and Prof. Fadiga) and then since 2012 as a Researcher in the Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department. In 2016 I moved to the IIT Center of Translational Neurophysiology for Speech and Communication, hosted by the University of Ferrara.

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ResearchGate profile

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- The role of the motor system in speech perception

- Sensorimotor convergence during speech interaction

- Neurophysiology of action observation

- Neurophysiology of objects affordance

- The syntactic organization of action

- Music and musicians as a test-bed for sensorimotor non-verbal interactions

- Sensorimotor non-verbal interactions in small groups

Selected Publications

Peer-reviewed Journals (@corresponding author; *equal contributions)

@49 - Coco M.I., Badino L., Cipresso P., Chirico A., Ferrari E., Riva G., Gaggioli A., D’Ausilio A. (2016) Multilevel behavioral synchronization in a joint tower-building task. IEEE T Cogn Develop Syst, In Press.

@48 - Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Campus C., D’Ausilio A. Beta rhythm modulation by speech sounds: somatotopic mapping in somatosensory cortex. Sci Rep, 6, 31182.

47 - Ansuini C., Cavallo A., Koul A., D'Ausilio A., Taverna L., Becchio C. (2016) Grasping others' movements: rapid discrimination of object size from observed hand movements. J Exp Psychol Hum Perc Perf, 42(7), 918-29

46 - Pezzulo G., D'Ausilio A., Gaggioli A. (2016) Predictive Technologies: Can Smart Tools Augment the Brain's Predictive Abilities? Front Neurosci, 10, 186.

45 - Volpe G., D’Ausilio A., Badino L., Camurri A., Fadiga L., (2016) Measuring social interaction in music ensembles. Phil Trans Roy Soc B, 371(1693), 20150377.

44 - Alamia A., Zénon A., Van Bever V., D’Ausilio A., Fadiga L., Olivier E. (2016) Disruption of Broca’s area selectively impairs high-order chunking during sequence learning. J Cogn Neurosci, 28 (3), 402-417.

@43 - Finisguerra A., Maffongelli L., Bassolino M., Jacono M., Pozzo T., D’Ausilio A. (2015) Generalization of motor resonance during the observation of hand, mouth and eye movements. J Neurophysiol, 114 (4), 2295-2304.

@42 - D’Ausilio A., Badino L., Cipresso P., Chirico A., Ferrari E., Riva G., Gaggioli A. (2015) Automatic imitation of the kinematic profile in interacting partners. Cogn Process, 16 (Supp 1), 197-201.

41 - Michael J., D’Ausilio A. (2015) Domain-specific and domain-general processes in social perception - A complementary approach. Conscious Cogn, 36, 434-7.

@40 - Maffongelli L., Bartoli E., Sammler D., Kölsch S., Campus C., Olivier E., Fadiga L., D’Ausilio A. (2015) Distinct brain signatures of content and structure violation during action observation. Neuropsychologia, 75, 30–39.

@39 - D'Ausilio A., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L. (2015) Motor control may support mirror neuron research with new hypotheses and methods. Phys Life Rev. 12, 133-137. (Reply to commentaries of publication #38)

@38 - D'Ausilio A., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L. (2015) Grasping Synergies: A motor-control approach to the mirror neuron mechanism. Phys Life Rev. 12, 91-103. Review article followed by 11 commentaries from: Enticott P.G.; Frey S.H., Chen P.W.; Naish K.R., Holmes N.P.; Casile A.; Pezzulo G., Donnarumma F., Iodice P., Prevete R., Dindo H.; Santello M.; Swinnen S.P., Alaerts K.; Cattaneo L.; Candidi M., Sacheli L.M., Aglioti S.M.; Cavallo A., Ansuini C., Becchio C.; de C. Hamilton A.F.

@37 - D’Ausilio A., Novembre G., Fadiga L., Keller P.E. (2015) What can music tell us about social interaction? Trends Cogn Sci. 19(3), 111-114.

@36 - *Bartoli E., *D’Ausilio A., Berry J., Badino L., Bever T., Fadiga L. (2015) Listener-speaker perceived distance predicts the degree of motor contribution to speech perception. Cereb Cortex, 25(2), 281-288. * Equal contribution.

35 - Pezzulo G., Barca L., D’Ausilio A. (2014) The sensorimotor and social sides of the architecture of speech. Behav Brain Sci. 37(06), 569 – 570.

@34 - D'Ausilio A., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Berry J.J., Fadiga L. (2014) Vision of tongue movements bias auditory speech perception. Neuropsychologia, 63, 85–91.

@33 - Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Jacono M., D’Ausilio A. (2014) Representing tools as hand movements: Early and somatotopic visuomotor transformations. Neuropsychologia, 61, 335-344.

32. Badino L., D’Ausilio A., Fadiga L., Metta G. (2014). Computational validation of the motor contribution to speech perception. Top Cogn Sci, 6(3), 461-475.

@31. D’Ausilio A., Maffongelli L., Bartoli E., Campanella M., Ferrari E., Berry J., Fadiga L. (2014). Listening to Speech Recruits Specific Tongue Motor Synergies as Revealed by TMS and Tissue-Doppler Ultrasound Imaging. Phil Trans Roy Soc B, 369(1644), 20130418.

30. *Badino L., *D’Ausilio A., Glowinski D., Camurri A., Fadiga L. (2014). Sensorimotor communication in professional quartets. Neuropsychologia, 55(1), 98-104. * Equal contribution.

29. Ajemian R., D'Ausilio A., Moorman H., Bizzi E. (2013). A theory for how sensorimotor skills are learned and retained in noisy and nonstationary neural circuits. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA, 110(52), E5078-87.

28. Schubert T., D’Ausilio A., Canto R. (2013). Using Arduino Microcontroller Boards to Measure Response Latencies. Behav Res Methods, 45(4), 1332-46.

27. Canevari C., Badino L., D'Ausilio A., Fadiga L., Metta G. (2013). Modeling speech imitation and ecological learning of auditory-motor maps. Front Psychol, 4, 364.

26. Busan P., D’Ausilio A., Borelli M., Monti F., Pelamatti G., Pizzolato G., Fadiga L. (2013) Motor excitability evaluation in developmental stuttering: A transcranial magnetic stimulation study. Cortex, 49, 781-792.

@25. Elsner C., D’Ausilio A., Gredebäck G., Falck-Ytter T., Fadiga L. (2013). The motor cortex is causally related to predictive eye movements during action observation. Neuropsychologia, 51(3), 488-492.

24. D’Ausilio A., Bufalari I., Salmas P., Fadiga L., (2012) The role of the motor system in discriminating degraded speech sounds. Cortex, 48(7), 882–887.

23. D’Ausilio A., Craighero L., Fadiga L., (2012) The contribution of the frontal lobe to the perception of speech and language. J Neurolinguist, 25(5), 328–335.

@22. D'Ausilio A., (2012) Arduino: a low-cost multi purpose lab equipment. Behav Res Methods, 44(2), 305-313.

21. D'Ausilio A., Badino L., Tokay S., Aloimonos Y., Li Y., Craighero L., Canto R., Fadiga L. (2012) Leadership in Orchestra Emerges from the Causal Relationships of Movement Kinematics. PLoS ONE, 7(5), e35757. (Press coverage on the “Economist”, “”, “Corriere della Sera”, “Panorama”, “Il Messaggero”, “”, etc.)

20. D'Ausilio A., Jarmolowska J., Busan P., Bufalari I., Craighero L. (2011) Tongue corticospinal modulation during attended verbal stimuli: Priming and coarticulation effects. Neuropsychologia, 49(13), 3670-3676.

@19. D’Ausilio A., Bufalari I., Salmas P., Busan P., Fadiga L., (2011) Vocal pitch discrimination in the motor system. Brain & Lang, 118, 9-14.

18. Senot P., D’Ausilio A., Franca M., Caselli L., Craighero L., Fadiga L. (2011) Effect of weight-related labels on corticospinal excitability during observation of grasping: a TMS study. Exp Brain Res, 211(1), 161-167.

17. Ruspantini I., D’Ausilio A., Mäki H., Ilmoniemi R.J. (2011) Some considerations about the biological appearance of pacing stimuli in visuomotor finger tapping tasks. Cogn Process, 12(2), 215-218.

16. Ruspantini I., Maki H., Korhonen R., D’Ausilio A., Ilmoniemi R. (2011) The functional role of the ventral premotor cortex in a visually-paced finger tapping task: a TMS study. Behav Brain Res, 220, 325–330.

@15. Canto R., Bufalari I., D’Ausilio A. (2011) A convenient and accurate parallel Input/Output USB device for E-Prime. Behav Res Methods, 43(1), 292-296.

14. Ajemian R., D’Ausilio A., Moorman H., Bizzi E. (2010). Why professional athletes need a prolonged period of warm-up and other peculiarities of human motor learning. J Mot Behav, 42(6), 381-388.

13. Londei A., D’Ausilio A., Basso D., Sestieri C., Del Gratta C., Romani GL., Olivetti Belardinelli M. (2010) Sensory-motor brain network connectivity for speech comprehension. Hum Brain Map, 31(4), 567-580.

@12. D’Ausilio A., Brunetti R., Delogu F., Santonico C., Olivetti Belardinelli M. (2010) How and when action-effects audition impairs motor performance. Exp Brain Res, 201(2), 323-330.

11. Kotz S.A., D’Ausilio A., Begliomini C., Craighero L., Fabbri-Destro M., Raettig T., Zingales C., Haggard P., Fadiga L. (2010) Lexicality drives audio-motor transformations in Broca's area. Brain & Lang, 112, 3-11.

@10. D'Ausilio A. (2009) Mirror-Like Mechanisms and Music. TheScientificWorldJOURNAL, 9, 1415-1422.

9. Olivetti Belardinelli M., Palmiero M., Sestieri C., Nardo D., Di Matteo R., Londei A, D’Ausilio A., Ferretti A., Del Gratta C., Romani G.L. (2009) An fMRI investigation on image generation in different sensory modalities: The influence of vividness. Acta Psych, 132(2), 190-200.

8. Palmiero M., Olivetti Belardinelli M., Nardo D., Sestieri C., Di Matteo R., D'Ausilio A., Romani G.L. (2009) Mental imagery generation in different modalities activates sensory-motor areas. Cogn Process, 10(supp. 2), S268-S271.

7. Fadiga L., Craighero L., D’Ausilio A. (2009) Broca’s Area in language, action and music. Ann NY Acad Sci, 1169, 448–458.

6. Fazio P., Cantagallo A., Craighero L., D’Ausilio A., Roy A.C., Calzolari A., Pozzo P., Granieri E., Fadiga L. (2009) Encoding of Human Action in Broca's area. Brain, 132(7), 1980-1988. (Cited in Faculty of Biology 1000)

5. D’Ausilio A., Pulvermüller F., Salmas P., Bufalari I., Begliomini C., Fadiga L. (2009) The motor somatotopy of speech perception. Curr Biol, 19, 381-385. [Comment by: Devlin J.T. & Aydelott J. (2009) Curr Biol, 19(5), R198-200. Online discussion with Dr. Gregory Hickok available at:]

@4. D’ausilio A., (2007) The Role of the Mirror System in Mapping Complex Sounds into Actions. J Neurosci, 27(22), 5847-5848.

3. Londei A., D’Ausilio A., Basso D., Sestieri C., Del Gratta C., Romani GL., Olivetti Belardinelli M. (2007) Brain network for passive word listening as evaluated with ICA and Granger’s causality. Brain Res Bull, 72(4-6), 284-292.

2. D’Ausilio A., Altenmuller E., Olivetti Belardinelli M., Lotze M. (2006). Cross modal plasticity of the motor cortex while listening to a rehearsed musical piece. Eur J Neurosci, 24, 955-958. (Cited in Faculty of Biology 1000)

1. Londei A., D’Ausilio A., Basso D., Olivetti Belardinelli M. (2006). A new method for detecting causality in fMRI data of cognitive processing. Cogn Process, 7, 42–52. (Cited in Faculty of Biology 1000)

Book Chapters

3 - D’Ausilio A., Lohan K., Badino L., Sciutti A. (In Press). Studying Human-Human interaction to build the future of Human-Robot interaction. A. Gaggioli, A. Ferscha, G. Riva, S. Dunne and I. Viaud-Delmon, Eds. Human Computer Confluence: advancing our understanding of the emerging symbiotic relation between humans and computing devices. (pp. xxx). De Gruyter Open: Warsaw, Poland.

2. Fadiga L., D’Ausilio A. (2013). From action to language: evidence and speculations. M. Sanz, I. Laka and M. K. Tanenhaus Eds. Language Down the Garden Path: The Cognitive and Biological Basis for Linguistic Structure (pp. 264-332). Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.

1. Fadiga L., Craighero L., D’Ausilio A. (2010). Broca’s Area in language, action and music. D. Riva and C. Njiokiktjien Eds. Brain lesions localization and developmental functions (Mariani Foundation Paediatric Neurology : 22). (pp. 187-200) John Libbey Eurotext: Montrouge, France.


2015 - 2020 – Associate Professor habilitation, Italian National Scientific Habilitation (ASN 2013) for the scientific sector of: Physiology

2015 - 2020 – Associate Professor habilitation, Italian National Scientific Habilitation (ASN 2013) for the scientific sector of: Psychobiology, Cognitive Psychology and Statistical Psychology

2014 - 2019 – Associate Professor habilitation, Italian National Scientific Habilitation (ASN 2012) for the scientific sector of: Psychobiology, Cognitive Psychology and Statistical Psychology

2012 – “De Renzi” Prize for young investigators (best poster), SINP – Società Italiana di Neuropsicologia (Italian Society for Neuropsychology)

2009 - Young Investigator Award, AIP - Associazione Italiana di Psicologia, Sezione Sperimentale (Italian Association of Psychology, Experimental Section).

2006 - Travel award, Human Brain Mapping conference. OHBM Grant.

2005 - Travel award, Human Brain Mapping conference. NIH Grant #2 R13 MH062008-06

2005 - ECONA scholarship on “Auditory-Motor Integration: New Methods and Perspective”

2005 - Selected by the MIT/Italy Program for a research stay at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2002/03 - Merit-based selection for undergrad research assistance, Dept. of Psychology, Sapienza University

2001/02 - Merit-based selection for undergrad research assistance, Dept. of Psychology, Sapienza University


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.