Cognition, Motion and Neuroscience

The Cognition Motion and Neuroscience unit investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying motor cognition. To do this, we call upon a diverse array of research methods, including quantitative behavioural and neuroimaging techniques.

Based on the assumption that mental states are hidden away and therefore not accessible to perception, standard theories of social cognition have mainly focused on the contribution of high-level, inferential mechanism. The way people move, the manner in which they interact with the environment, however, reveals much about their mental states. The goal of our research program is to develop a new quantitative methodology to investigate the relationship between the ‘mental’ and the ‘motor’.



At present, we are particularly interested in the following topics:

  • the effectiveness of movement kinematics in conveying intention-related information and the active use observers make of this information to understand and predict others’ behaviour
  • the mechanisms supporting action and perception in the context of social interaction
  • the potential of movement kinematics to reveal decision processes
  • the relationship between action execution and action perception in individuals with autism spectrum disorder

By combining advanced methods in psychophysics and neuroscience (including fMRI and TMS) with kinematics technologies, we seek to bridge fundamental gap between observable movements and unobservable mental states, providing knowledge and applications of scientific, technological and clinical impact.




IIT Publications List

Koul A., Cavallo A., Cauda F., Costa T., Diano M., Pontil M., Becchio C.
Action Observation Areas Represent Intentions From Subtle Kinematic Features
Cerebral Cortex, vol. 28, (no. 7), pp. 2647–2654
Becchio C., Koul A., Ansuini C., Bertone C., Cavallo A.
Seeing mental states: An experimental strategy for measuring the observability of other minds
Physics of Life Reviews, vol. 24, pp. 67-80
Cavallo A., Ansuini C., Capozzi F., Tversky B., Becchio C.
When Far Becomes Near: Perspective Taking Induces Social Remapping of Spatial Relations
Psychological Science, vol. 28, (no. 1), pp. 69-79
Cavallo A., Koul A., Ansuini C., Capozzi F., Becchio C.
Decoding intentions from movement kinematics
Scientific Reports, vol. 6
Ansuini C., Cavallo A., Bertone C., Becchio C.
Intentions in the brain: The unveiling of Mister Hyde
Neuroscientist, vol. 21, (no. 2), pp. 126-135