At the Cognition Across the Senses lab we study the role of multisensory processes in perception, attention, space representation and language in typical and atypical populations. We combine methods from psychophysics, neuropsychology, social psychology and neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI) to investigate primarily two topics: (1) Cognition in profoundly deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with cochlear implant; (2) Own body perception. 

Click here for a complete list of publication and research topics, or visit Francesco Pavani on PubMed or ResearchGate.


Cognition in profoundly deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with cochlear implant

Auditory space processing and multisensory spatial attention in people with cochlear implant

This research line is currently supported by a grant from Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, France), a grant from ITMO-Aviesan (France), a grant from the MEDISITE Foundation (France) and a grant from the Foundation Neurodis (France). 

In collaboration with: Alessandro Farnè and Valerie Gaveau (ImpAct Unit, Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon -- CRNL, Lyon, France), Eric Truy (ENT Department at the Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France), Giuseppe Nicolò Frau and Francesca Bonfioli (ENT Department at the Rovereto Hospital, Rovereto, Italy).

Selected publications 

  • Pavani, F., Venturini, M., Baruffaldi, F., Artesini, L., Bonfioli, F., Frau, G. N., & van Zoest, W. (2017). Spatial and non-spatial multisensory cueing in unilateral cochlear implant users. Hearing research, 344, 24-37.
  • Nava, E., Bottari, D., Bonfioli, F., Beltrame, M.A., & Pavani, F. (2009). Spatial hearing with a single cochlear implant: a study in prelingually deafened adults. Hearing Research, 255, 91-98.
  • Nava, E., Bottari, D., Portioli, G., Bonfioli, F., Beltrame, M.A., Formigoni, P., & Pavani, F. (2009). Hearing again with two ears: Recovery of spatial hearing after bilateral cochlear implantation. Neuropsychologia, 47, 928-32.


Language processing with cochlear implant

Cochlear implants (CI) are considered one of the most successful biomedical device of the last decades. Under which conditions CIs lead to typical language development is however an area of active investigation. This research line focuses on the EEG correlates of language processing, studying well established EEG/ERP components of semantic and syntactic processing, in CI users and age-matched hearing controls. The goals are to 1) establish neural markers of language processing in deaf people with CI; 2) identify under which conditions these neural correlates diverge with respect to typical development. The long-term perspective is to provide useful indications to professionals (e.g., speech therapists, audiologists) interested in promoting language in CI users.

In collaboration with Prof. Francesco Vespignani (DiPSCo, University of Trento, Italy), Dr. Debora Musola (Coperativa Logogenia®

Selected publications 

  • Rinaldi, P., Caselli, M. C., Pavani, F. (2017). Linguaggio e sordità: il contributo delle neuroscienze cognitive. In S. Vicari e M. C. Caselli (a cura di), Neuropsicologia dello sviluppo. Bologna, Il Mulino.
  • Pavani, F. (2016). Lingue dei segni, sordità e plasticità cerebrale. Le lingue dei segni come strumento di cittadinanza. Maziale, B., & Volterra, V.  (Eds). Carocci.
  • Pavani, F. (2014). La LIS nell’era degli impianti cocleari. Contributi alla discussione. Psicologia Clinica dello Sviluppo, 18(3), 428-470.


Visual attention in early deafness

In the last decades research on the effects of early deafness in humans have documented changes in visual processing, involving the intact visual cortices as well as the deafferented auditory cortices. Behaviourally, deaf people proved particularly sensitive to transients in the visual scene, especially when they occur towards the periphery of the visual field. To what extent these neural and behavioural changes lead to visual dominance and may limit goal-oriented behaviour in deaf people remained largely unexplored. In the last years, at CAtS we have focused on the behavioural and neural changes that characterise the visual system of early deaf people. In addition, we have started to examine the ability of early deaf adults in achieving a balance between bottom-up and top-down mechanisms of selective attention. Overall, our results reveal a remarkable degree of top-down control in deaf adults, that can favour goal-oriented behaviour even within a perceptual system substantially changed by auditory-deprivation. We are now exploring how this attentional balance changes during development. 

In collaboration with: Maria Cristina Caselli and Pasquale Rinaldi (ISTC-CNR, Rome, Italy), Wieske van Zoest (University of Trento, Italy)

Selected publications 


Own body perception

Bilateral interactions in tactile processing

According to current textbook knowledge, primary somatosensory cortex (SI) supports unilateral tactile representations, whereas structures beyond SI, in particular the secondary somatosensory cortices (SII), support bilateral tactile representations. However, dexterous and well-coordinated bimanual motor tasks require early integration of bilateral tactile information. Our work on bilateral interaction in tactile processing is contributing to show that this textbook notion need to be reconsidered. In agreement with studies in animals, our work in humans indicate that SI is more than a simple relay for unilateral sensory information and, together with SII, contributes to the integration of somatosensory inputs from both sides of the body. Interactions between tactile stimuli on the two sides of the body can occur at early stages of processing.  

In collaboration with: Luigi Tamè (Birkbeck College, UK), Christoph Braun (Tubingen University, Germany), Alessandro Farné (INSERM, France), Nicholas Holmes (University of Nottingham, UK). 

Selected publications 

  • Tamè, A., Braun, C., Holmes, N., Farnè, A., & Pavani, F. (2016). Bilateral representations of touch in the primary somatosensory cortex. Cognitive Neuropsychology.
  • Tamè, L., Pavani, F., Braun, C., Salemme, R., Farnè, A., & Reilly, K.T. (2015). Somatotopy and temporal dynamics of sensorimotor interactions: evidence from double afferent inhibition. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41(11), 1459-1465. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12890
  • Tamè, L., Pavani, F., Papadelis, C., Farnè, A., & Braun, C. (2015). Early integration of bilateral touch in the primary somatosensory cortex. Human Brain Mapping, 36(4), 1506-1523.
  • Tamè, L., Farnè, A., & Pavani, F. (2013). Vision of the body and the differentiation of perceived body side in touch. Cortex, 49(5), 1340-51. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2012.03.016.
  • Tamè, L., Braun, C., Lingnau, A., Schwarzbach, J., Demarchi, G., Li Hegner, Y., Farnè, A., & Pavani F. (2012). The contribution of primary and secondary somatosensory cortices to the representation of body parts and body sides: an fMRI adaptation study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(12), 2306-2320. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00272.
  • Tamè, L., Farnè, A., & Pavani, F. (2011). Spatial coding of touch at the fingers: Insights from double simultaneous stimulation within and between hands. Neuroscience Letters, 487(1), 78-82.


The perception of body size for self and others

This research program investigates body size perception for self and others, in adolescent and adults, addressing in particular the influences of social context and social comparisons in modulating this aspect of body perception. The project is led by Mara Mazzurega and Francesco Pavani. Collaborators on this project included: Chiara Valzolgher, Laura Facci, Jlenia Marisa and Silvia Scarozza. 

In collaboration with: Massimiliano Zampini (CIMeC, IT)

Publications and abstracts 

  • Mazzurega, M., Facci, L., Marisa, J., Scarozza, S., Valzolgher, C., Calcagnì, A., Zampini, M., & Pavani, F. (2016). Il peso degli altri nella stima delle proprie dimensioni corporee [The role of other's weight in the estimate of own body size perception]. Annual meeting of the Associazione Italiana di Psicologia (Psicologia Sperimentale), 20-22 September 2016, Rome (Italy).
  • Valzolgher, C., Mazzurega, M., Zampini, M., & Pavani, F. (2016). Fuori di Sé. Alterazione illusoria dell'appartenenza corporea e auto-oggettivazione [Outside of the Self. Illusory alterations of body ownership and self-objectification]. Annual meeting of the Associazione Italiana di Psicologia (Psicologia Sperimentale), 20-22 September 2016, Rome (Italy).
  • Mazzurega, M., Facci, L., Zeni, S., Zampini, M., & Pavani, F. (2016). La stima delle dimensioni corporee di Sé e dell'Altro in un contesto interpersonale  [The estimate of body size for self and other in an interpersonal context]. Annual meeting of the Associazione Italiana di Psicologia (Psicologia Sociale), 22-24 September 2016, Naples (Italy).