Cognitive neuroscience is by its nature interdisciplinary, and addresses longstanding questions about brain and mind from new perspectives that cut across traditional intellectual and departmental boundaries. All aspects of our mental lives – our perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and knowledge; our attitudes and intentions; our decisions and actions – are encoded in patterns of brain activity and the structure of brain circuits. The merged discipline, cognitive neuroscience, then will be among the most significant of human research activities for years to come.
In this perspective, the mission of the Cognitive Neuroscience Center (CNC) is to serve as a central focus for research, education, and training in the psychological, computational, and biological mechanisms of higher mental functions; variability in these mechanisms among individuals, across the lifespan, and between species; application of these mechanisms to real-world problems; and their dissolution in disease and mental disorders.
The CNC pursues a vision, cracking the neural code through building an interdisciplinary community of scientists and scholars at the University of Padova who are engaged in cognitive neuroscience education and research. Understanding the neural code – how information is encoded in brain activity and structure – is a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort from many scientific disciplines. To advance this agenda, the CNC and its activities bring together faculty from multiple disciplines in the University, including Psychology, Medicine, Biology, Psychiatry, Biomedical Engineering, Linguistics, Neurology and Radiology.
The heart of the CNC revolves around world-class laboratory facilities. Our methods are equally diverse, and include functional neuroimaging (magnetic resonance functional and structural applications, functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy – fNIRS), behavioral testing of neurological and psychiatric patients, transcranial and direct current magnetic stimulation, scalp-recorded event-related potentials, computational modelling, candidate gene studies of cognitive processes.This methodological approach forms a “crack in the armour” that separates mind and brain. They moved the domains of cognitive science towards physiology and of neuroscience towards the study of cognition. Our current research addresses the central problems of cognitive neuroscience, including perception, attention, memory, language, emotion, decision making, social interaction, morality, motor control, executive function, and the evolution and development of mental processes.
The CNC builds the cognitive neuroscience community at Padova with events, workshops on selected topics, and summer schools. And provides opportunities for dialogue through seminar, lecture, and presentation series. The CNC organizes a series of talks through the academic year, some of which are targeted at experts in cognitive neuroscience and others at a broader audience in the Padova community. The CNC also sponsors a distinguished lecture series to bring in notable scientists to present their research.