The Animal Brain & Cognition research group belongs to the ACN Laboratories of the CIMeC Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences.
The main goal of the group is the investigation of cognitive processes and their neurobiological bases in a comparative perspective. Research is mainly focused on the mechanisms of cerebral representation of physical and social objects, numbers, time and space. To carry this out, different species of vertebrates are used, in particular fish, birds along with small rodents, as well as invertebrates, all housed in the animal house.
The group focus special attention on animal models characterized by simpler (or otherwise different) cerebral architectures than those of mammals, in order to provide support for comparative research and investigations into basic neurological mechanisms. Part of the lab staff is currently involved in a research project, funded by an ERC grant, on behavioral and neural characterization of unlearned social-predispositions present in early developmental stages of distant species (newly-hatched chicks and human newborns). The techniques used combine traditional methods of ethological and behavioral investigation with neurobiological procedures, such as immunohystochemical analyses of gene expression in the brain.
The ABC research activitities are also associated with research carried out in three other labs jointly run by CIMeC and, respectively, Mach Foundation (Insect Neurobiology and Neuroecology Lab - INNLab), the Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto (Ethology, Ecology and Evolution Lab EEELab), and the Department of Physics (Laboratory for Neurophysics).
The Animal Brain & Cognition research group is linked to TRAIN (Trentino Autism Initiative).
The members of the ABC group at present are: Giorgio Vallortigara (Full Professor), Valeria Sovrano (Associate Professor), Paola Sgadò (Principal Investigator), Uwe Mayer (Principal Investigator), Orsola Rosa Salva (post-doc), Marie Hebert (post-doc), Elisabetta Versace (post-doc), Matteo Caffini (post-doc), Elena Lorenzi (Doctoral Fellow), Davide Potrich (Doctoral Fellow), Ciro Petrone (technician), Tommaso Pecchia (technician), Grazia Gambardella (administrative), Gionata Stancher (associate fellow at CIMeC and research worker at Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto).