How do we detect and recognize social interactions in the cluttered and crowded visual environment?

(Project THEMPO – ERC StG 2017 – 758473)


The abilities to quickly recognize our conspecifics and to quickly understand what they are doing is a fundamental task for our social life. In the past decades, cognitive neuroscientists have gained important knowledge on these abilities, by studying how the humans recognizes faces and bodies, and infers goals and intentions behind a given facial expression or body movement…
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Papeo L., Stein T., Soto-Faraco S. (2017). The two-body inversion effect. Psychological Science, 28(3), 369-379 » PDF

How do humans recognize humans?

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December 13, 2017


A requirement for a system that has evolved to live in a social environment is to be able to recognize rapidly entities with which it can engage in interactions, above all, conspecifics. The human brain has developed high sensitivity to visual signals that cue the presence of a biological entity (an animal) in the environment, such as facial and body configurations, animacy, and a specific type of motion called “biological motion”. Read more

Papeo L., Wurm, M. F., Oosterhof, N. N., & Caramazza, A. (2017). The neural representation of human versus nonhuman bipeds and quadrupeds. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 14040 » go to article

Neurobiology of language


How are word meanings represented in the brain?
Focusing on the case of verbs, we have shown that both modality-specific brain areas such as the motor cortex and brain areas outside modality-specific systems, such as the middle temporal gyrus, are activated during understanding of verbs. By focusing on those two nodes of a larger network (i.e. motor cortex and middle temporal cortex), we have substantiated the existence of both abstract and general (in the middle temporal cortex) and specific information (in the motor cortex) about of word meanings. Read more

Papeo L., Lingnau, A., Agosta, S., Pascual-Leone, A., Battelli, L., & Caramazza, A. (2014). The origin of word-related motor activity. Cerebral Cortex, 25(6), 1668-1675 » go to article

Research methods


A library of high-resolution videos of communicative gestures (pantomimes and emblems) and meaningless gestures is publicly available for research on gestures, language and multimodal communication. For all the gestures, the library provides measures of comprehensibility in two cultures (Italian and American), normed naming and verbal description. »Download the library »Read more

Agostini A., Papeo L., Galusca C.I., Lingnau A. (2019). A norming study of high-quality video clips of pantomimes, emblems and meaningless gestures. Behavior Research Methods, in press » go to article