Laboratory of Social Neuroscience and Comparative Development
Dr Ferrari’s research focus is on the neural bases of social behavior and emotions, and the related psychological and developmental processes in human and nonhuman primates.
Neurophysiology. His current research focuses on the neurophysiology of social cognition in human and nonhuman primates, primarily focusing on the role of action-perception mechanisms in social behavior and emotional communication. The objective of the neurophysiological studies is to understand the role of premotor and parietal neurons in higher cognitive functions such as action/emotion understanding and imitation. In more recent years his interests have been focused on the plasticity of the motor system during learning and during the early phases of development.
Development. Through different collaborations Dr Ferrari’s work has focused on the effects of early experience on social and brain development in both human and nonhuman primates. In particular the core question addressed by his team is to understand how early social experiences support infant’s social development and how early life’s adversity might interfere with brain mechanisms involved in the emergence of such skills. The neurochemical modulation of these early interactions, by means of nebulized Oxytocin, is one of the research lines pursuit by the Ferrari’s team.
Translational research. Another research line concerns the investigation of the motor system in children affected by cerebral facial palsy (i.e. Moebius Syndrome), a rare congenital syndrome characterized by the incapability to move facial mimic muscles. Such research has two aims: 1) to investigate emotional processes in children with Moebius syndrome, and 2) To design a rehabilitative intervention on patients who underwent transplant muscle surgery. Such rehabilitative intervention is based on the idea that through an action-perception mechanism we could activate motor programs in patients who have difficulty in recruiting the transplanted muscles.
My main research lines take advantage of several methodological approaches: depth multielectrode recordings of single neurons, multiunit and LFP, high-density EEG, wireless neuronal recordings, thermal imaging, Tobii automated eye-tracking assessments in neonates.