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 leaded by Giorgio Vallortigara 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, housed in our Animal House as well as invertebrates, as honeybees, bumblebees and fruitfly.
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 ERC grants, on behavioral and neural characterization of unlearned social-predispositions present in early developmental stages of distant species (newly-hatched chicks and human newborns) and part in a research project on the origins of numerosity cognition funded by Human Frontiers Science Program. The techniques used combine traditional methods of ethological and behavioral investigation with neurobiological procedures, such as single cell recordings and immunohistochemistry analyses of gene expression in the brain.
The members of the ABC group at present are: Giorgio Vallortigara (Full Professor and PI), Orsola Rosa Salva (Post-doc), Marie Hebert (Post-doc), Elena Lorenzi (Post-doc), Andrea Messina (Post-doc), Davide Potrich (Post-doc), Maria Bortot (Doctoral Fellow), Bastien Lemaire (Doctoral Fellow), Ilaria Schiona (Doctoral Fellow), Elisabetta Versace (Visiting Scientist, Queen Mary University of London), Ciro Petrone (Technician), Tommaso Pecchia (Technician), Grazia Gambardella (Administrative), Maria Ferrari (Administrative Support), Gionata Stancher (Associate Fellow at CIMeC and research worker at Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto).