People

Dr Silvia Rigato

Senior Lecturer
Department of Psychology
Dr Silvia Rigato

Profile

Biography

I completed my BSc and MSc in Developmental and Educational Psychology at University of Padua, Italy. I then worked with Dr. Teresa Farroni at the Hospital of Monfalcone (Trieste), Italy, investigating face perception in newborns. I subsequently moved to London where I obtained a PhD at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck College, supervised by Professor Mark Johnson. I then spent 3 years working as a postdoc at the Goldsmiths InfantLab, directed by Dr. Andy Bremner, investigating the development of the neural basis of tactile localisation. I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex in September 2013. Grants 2017: Promoting awareness and practice in child wellbeing. Co-PI with Dr Maria Laura Filippetti. PVC Research Strategic Fund, University of Essex (£3,374.25). 2015: Developing a screening tool to detect non-adaptive behaviours in developmental disorders. Co-PI with Dr. Karla Holmboe. PVC Research Seedcorn Fund, University of Essex (£14,000). 2014-2016: Longitudinal Trajectories in Brain Function in Infancy. Co-PI with Dr. Karla Holmboe. Grand Challenges Explorations Round 13 (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation): Phase 1 Grant ($100,000). 2014: The emergence of face- and body-selective brain signatures in infants. Co-PI with Dr. Helge Gillmeister. Research Promotion Fund, Department of Psychology, University of Essex (£3,964). 2013: University of Essex Babylab. Research Promotion Fund, Department of Psychology, University of Essex (£3,545). 2013-2014: Development of the neural basis of shared touch in human infancy. British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (£9,295). Co-PI with Dr. Andrew Bremner. 2006-2009: Marie Curie Early Career Fellowship (PhD funding).

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Face and emotion processing in infancy.

I am interested in the infants ability of integrating the information coming from the eye region and the emotional expression. There is growing evidence that infants, and even newborns, are expert in recognizing faces and processing their inner features. They show visual preferences and different brain activation according to specific gaze-expression combinations.

Open to supervise

The development of body representation and tactile localisation.

As we move and act on the world, we need to continuously update the sense of our posture and the position of our limbs (body schema). This involves taking into account the visual and proprioceptive cues about our body, based on which a mental representation of the body is formed. I investigate how infants develop the ability to locate a touch on their body while taking into account their own postural changes.

Open to supervise

The development of the neural basis of shared touch.

When observing the experiences of others, we not only understand what they experience but often empathically share their states. One set of mechanisms that contribute to this ability are neural regions where seeing the states of others triggers representations of corresponding states in our brain. I study how this process develops in the infant brain.

Open to supervise

Perinatal mental health.

The mother’s ability to respond appropriately to the infant’s communicative signals and her emotional sensitivity are key factors in the child’s cognitive and socio-emotional development. I am interested in studying how prenatal and postnatal maternal changes influence child’s development in the first year of life.

Open to supervise

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Discovering Psychology: The Science Behind Human Behaviour (PS111)

  • Developmental Psychology (PS406)

  • Brain and Behaviour (PS411)

  • Psychology of Body, Senses and Existence (PS502)

  • Making connections: How children develop (PS507)

  • Advanced Developmental Psychology (PS931)

  • Special Topics in Individual Differences and Developmental Psychology (PS938)

  • Advanced Brain and Behaviour (PS943)

  • Theory and Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology (PS949)

Publications

Journal articles (18)

Filippetti, ML., Andreu, J., Rigato, S. and De Klerk, C., Investigating the effects of stimulus presentation design on infant fNIRS data using a general linear model (GLM) and multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) based approach. NeuroImage

Filippetti, ML., Andreu, J., De Klerk, C. and Rigato, S., Are advanced methods necessary to improve infant fNIRS data analysis? An assessment of baseline-corrected averaging, general linear model (GLM) and multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) based approaches. NeuroImage

Rigato, S., Banissy, MJ., Romanska, A., Thomas, R. and van Velzen, J., (2019). Cortical signatures of vicarious tactile experience in four-month-old infants. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 35, 75-80

Rigato, S., Bremner, AJ., Gillmeister, H. and Banissy, MJ., (2019). Interpersonal representations of touch in somatosensory cortex are modulated by perspective. Biological Psychology. 146, 107719-107719

Gillmeister, H., Stets, M., Grigorova, M. and Rigato, S., (2019). How do bodies become special? Electrophysiological evidence for the emergence of body-related cortical processing in the first 14 months of life.. Developmental Psychology. 55 (10), 2025-2038

Gillmeister, H., Bowling, N., Rigato, S. and Banissy, MJ., (2017). Inter-individual differences in vicarious tactile perception: A view across the lifespan in typical and atypical populations. Multisensory Research. 30 (6), 485-508

Rigato, S., Rieger, G. and Romei, V., (2016). Multisensory signalling enhances pupil dilation.. Scientific Reports. 6 (1), 26188-

Rigato, S., Begum Ali, J., van Velzen, J. and Bremner, AJ., (2014). The Neural Basis of Somatosensory Remapping Develops in Human Infancy. Current Biology. 24 (11), 1222-1226

Rigato, S., Bremner, AJ., Mason, L., Pickering, A., Davis, R. and van Velzen, J., (2014). The electrophysiological time course of somatosensory spatial remapping: vision of the hands modulates effects of posture on somatosensory evoked potentials. European Journal of Neuroscience. 39 (4), 703-703

Rigato, S., Menon, E., Farroni, T. and Johnson, MH., (2013). The shared signal hypothesis: Effects of emotion-gaze congruency in infant and adult visual preferences. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. 31 (1), 15-29

Bremner, AJ., Hill, EL., Pratt, M., Rigato, S. and Spence, C., (2013). Bodily Illusions in Young Children: Developmental Change in Visual and Proprioceptive Contributions to Perceived Hand Position. PLoS ONE. 8 (1), e51887-e51887

Rigato, S., Bremner, AJ., Mason, L., Pickering, A., Davis, R. and van Velzen, J., (2013). The electrophysiological time course of somatosensory spatial remapping: vision of the hands modulates effects of posture on somatosensory evoked potentials. European Journal of Neuroscience. 38 (6), n/a-n/a

Rigato, S., Menon, E., Gangi, VD., George, N. and Farroni, T., (2013). The role of facial expressions in attention-orienting in adults and infants. International Journal of Behavioral Development. 37 (2), 154-159

Rigato, S. and Farroni, T., (2013). The Role of Gaze in the Processing of Emotional Facial Expressions. Emotion Review. 5 (1), 36-40

Rigato, S., Menon, E., Johnson, MH., Faraguna, D. and Farroni, T., (2011). Direct gaze may modulate face recognition in newborns. Infant and Child Development. 20 (1), 20-34

Rigato, S., Menon, E., Johnson, MH. and Farroni, T., (2011). The interaction between gaze direction and facial expressions in newborns. European Journal of Developmental Psychology. 8 (5), 624-636

Rigato, S., Farroni, T. and Johnson, MH., (2010). The shared signal hypothesis and neural responses to expressions and gaze in infants and adults. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 5 (1), 88-97

Farroni, T., Menon, E., Rigato, S. and Johnson, MH., (2007). The perception of facial expressions in newborns. European Journal of Developmental Psychology. 4 (1), 2-13

Grants and funding

2014

Longitudinal Trajectories in Brain Function in Infancy

Grand Challenges (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Contact

srigato@essex.ac.uk
+44 (0) 1206 873783

Location:

3.715, Colchester Campus

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