My research mainly 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 research interests can be summarized as follows:
- Theoretical models and neural basis of the Sense of Agency
- Sense of Agency for moral actions
- Theoretical models and neural basis of Consciousness
- Phenomenal properties and neural basis of conscious Intentions
- Neural basis and behavioral correlates of Action/Error Monitoring
- Plasticity of Body Ownership
- Moral decision-making in Parkinson's Disease
- Influence of social and non-social stimuli on attention
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.
In February 2019, I obtained my PhD in "Psychology and Social Neuroscience" ("Cognitive, Social and Affective Neuroscience" curriculum) at the Department of Psychology of the University of Rome "La Sapienza" with a thesis entitled: "Controlling actions and experiencing control: the influence of movement execution and goal achievement on the Sense of Agency".