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Riccardo Villa

Post Doc

Research Line

Neuroscience and society





My research focuses on the investigation of the Sense of Agency – i.e., the feeling of controlling actions and their consequences in the external environment - and its neural underpinnings. In particular, the objective of my studies is to understand how different sources of information – e.g., movement control, goal achievement, freedom to act, outcome value, moral context – contribute to modulate the feeling of control. To do so, my colleagues and I developed a novel paradigm – the SoA-GAME (Sense of Agency for Goal Achievement and Movement Execution. Villa et al., 2018. Experimental Brain Research. Villa et al., 2020. Psychological Research) which allows to study the influence of various action cues at the same time, by showing participants expected or unexpected virtual actions.

My previous research experience also includes the investigation of i) conscious Intentions, based on EEG/EMG recording and on mental chronometry, and of ii) how the brain processes social and non-social attentional stimuli by means of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.



Nov 2015 – Feb 2019 

Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Neuroscience - "Cognitive, Social and Affective Neuroscience" Curriculum. "La Sapienza" Università di Roma, Rome (Italy)

Thesis title: Controlling actions and experiencing control: the influence of movement execution and goal achievement on the Sense of Agency

Supervisors: Dr, Giuseppina Porciello, Dr. Emmanuele Tidoni.

Dec 2012– Jul 2015

Master’s Degree in “Sciences of the Mind”. Università degli Studi di Torino (Department of Psychology), Torino (Italy)

Final mark: 110 Lode (Full marks with honours)

Sep 2009– Nov 2012

Bachelor’s Degree in “Psychological Sciences and Techniques”. Università degli Studi di Torino (Department of Psychology), Torino (Italy)

Final mark: 110 Lode (Full marks with honours)



Villa, R., Tidoni, E., Porciello, G., Aglioti, S.M. (2020). Freedom to act enhances the sense of agency, while movement and goal-related prediction errors reduce it. Psychological Research.

Villa, R., Tidoni, E., Porciello, G., Aglioti, S.M. (2018). Violation of expectations about movement and goal achievement leads to Sense of Agency reduction. Experimental Brain Research. 236(7): 2123-2135.



In November 2018 I was awarded the "IBRO InEurope Short Stay Grant" offered by IBRO-PERC



Sense of Agency Motor Cognition Action/Error monitoring Affective Neuroscience


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