2020 applicants

Dr Elia Valentini

Senior Lecturer
Department of Psychology
Dr Elia Valentini
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873710

  • Location

    4.701, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    "open door" policy 9-18



My research investigates how people perceive negative valence information, how they interpret both physical (i.e. sensory) and psychological (i.e. symbolic) events as threatening. My previous work at Sapienza University of Rome and University College London spans from the study of the cortical processing of repeated sensory stimuli to the more complex cognitive modulations of the experience of pain. I enjoy using electroencephalography (EEG) as a means to record brain activity, psychophysics, neuropsychological testing and behavioural tasks, all sort of self-report measures in surveys. More specifically, my previous research has concerned the i) neurophysiology and psychophysiology of somatosensation and pain and ii) cognitive/emotional and sensorimotor modulations of body representation and pain. Currently, I am also interested in studying psychological and neural correlates of cognitive and emotional processes associated with existential threats or threats triggered by social cues (e.g. facial expressions), social exclusion, rejection, loss, trauma, self-harm. Further topic of collaboration can revolve around nocebo/placebo phenomena, empathy and prosocial behaviour.


  • PhD Sapienza University of Rome,


Other academic

  • Lecturer, Psychology, University of Essex (2/9/2015 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

The study of brain responses during tonic pain and other unpleasant prolonged sensory stimulation

The identification of neurobiological markers that predict individual predisposition to pain is important for the development of effective pain treatments as well as for a more complete understanding of how pain originates in the brain. A current project is investigating whether alpha EEG oscillations can index hot and cold tonic pain in a specific fashion. More generally, I am interested in studying how we encode and maintain prolonged sensory information in a crossmodal and multisensory setting and differentiate how the threat value varies across different experiences.

Open to supervise

Sensory expectation and prediction in the brain

A great deal of research is attempting to understand how the brain eventually develop models of the sensory world. In this endeavour, the interaction between fulfilled expectations and violated expectations is a crucial information processing problem, which outcome can lead to dramatically different perceptual and behavioural decisions.

Open to supervise

Existential threats. How symbolic threats can alter our behaviour and brain activity

A long-standing research tradition holds that reminding people of their own death leads to tremendous effects on their behaviour and even perception. However, both theoretical and methodological contributions to this field of research fall short in providing a comprehensive view of this phenomenon. For example, it is not clear to date how general is the impact of death cognition compared to other (potentially more threatening) mind-sets (e.g. becoming paralysed or being abandoned). I am fascinated by the idea of understanding the neural mechanisms underpinning such symbolic threat and explain them in a more general biological framework of anxiety and emotional appraisal.

Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Chair of the symposium entitled Electroencephalographic advancements in the study of pain and of its cognitive and affective modulations. Talk entitled Impact of reminders of death on pain and sensory representation as measured by electroencephalographic activity in healthy individuals. The 3rd international conference of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN). Porto 23-26 of June 2016.

Porto, Portugal, 2016

Valentini E. Representation of potentially noxious events in the brain: quest for a preattentive nociceptive sensory trace. NEURONUS 2016 IBRO & IRUN Neuroscience Forum. Krakow, Poland. April 22-24 2016.

Krakow, Poland, 2016

Valentini E., Nicolardi V., Aglioti S.M. Pain engrams: behavioural and neural correlates of nociceptive working memory. 9th EFIC European Congress on pain. Vienna, Austria, 2-5 September 2015.

Vienna, Austria, 2015

Processing of nociceptive deviant input in the brain: is there a real preattentive nociceptive-related mismatch response? 7th Conference on the Mismatch Negativity (MMN). Leipzig, Germany. September 8-11 2015.

Leipzig, Germany, 2015

Valentini E., Nicolardi V., Koch K., Aglioti S.M. Thoughts of death modulate the cortical responses to threatening stimuli. 15th World Congress on Pain. Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 6-11, 2014.

15th World Congress on Pain, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2014

Functional significance of nociceptive event-related potentials: evidence from EEG studies of the somatosensory system. Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina. October 14 2014.

Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2014

Repetition suppression of nociceptive event-related potentials: evidence from EEG studies of the somatosensory system. Repetition suppression summer school (RESUS). University of Jena, Germany. September 7-12 2014.

Jena, Germany, 2014

Valentini E., Koch K., Aglioti S.M. Vision analgesia and arms crossing analgesia: do they interact? Satellite meeting of 8th EFIC European Congress on pain. Neural circuits underlying nociception and pain and their plasticity. Heidelberg, Germany, 6-8 October, 2013.

Heidelberg, Germany, 2013

Valentini E., Zhao C., Peng W.W., Hu L., 2012. Mismatch responses evoked by nociceptive stimuli: a preliminary investigation. 14th IASP World Congress on pain. Milan, Italy, August 26-31, 2012.

Milan, Italy, 2012

Attentional modulations of pain: evidence from laser evoked EEG potentials. Southwest University, Chongqing, China, June 29th 2012.

Chongqing, China, 2012

Valentini E., Torta D., Mouraux A, Iannetti G. Determinants of laser evoked EEG responses: effect of predictable and unpredictable changes in stimulus modality. 13th IASP World Congress on Pain. Montreal, Canada, August 29th - September 2nd, 2010.

Montreal, Canada, 2010

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Statistics for Psychologists (PS115)

  • Brain and Behaviour (PS411)

  • Body, Senses and Existence (PS502)

  • Believing is Seeing. The power of belief and suggestion on the mind and brain (PS508)

  • Advanced Brain and Behaviour (PS943)

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

Previous supervision

Jason Cooke
Jason Cooke
Thesis title: Assessing the Oscillatory Properties of Functional Connections Between Sensory Areas During Crossmodal Illusions: A Correlational and Causal Investigation
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 27/5/2020


Journal articles (36)

Valentini, E., Fetter, E. and Orbell, S., (2020). Treatment preferences in fibromyalgia patients: A cross‐sectional web‐based survey. European Journal of Pain

Stefanics, G., Heinzle, J., Czigler, I., Valentini, E. and Stephan, KE., (2018). Timing of repetition suppression of event-related potentials to unattended objects. European Journal of Neuroscience

Valentini, E. and Gyimes, IL., (2018). Visual cues of threat elicit greater steady-state electroencephalographic responses than visual reminders of death. Biological Psychology. 139, 73-86

Torta, DM., Legrain, V., Mouraux, A. and Valentini, E., (2017). Attention to pain! A neurocognitive perspective on attentional modulation of pain in neuroimaging studies. Cortex. 89, 120-134

Valentini, E., Nicolardi, V. and Aglioti, SM., (2017). Painful engrams: Oscillatory correlates of working memory for phasic nociceptive laser stimuli. Brain and Cognition. 115, 21-32

Valentini, E., Nicolardi, V. and Aglioti, SM., (2017). Visual reminders of death enhance nociceptive–related cortical responses and event-related alpha desynchronisation. Biological Psychology. 129, 121-130

Nicolardi, V. and Valentini, E., (2016). Commentary: Top-down and bottom-up modulation of pain-induced oscillations. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 10 (APR2016), 1-3

Valentini, E., Koch, K. and Aglioti, SM., (2015). Seeing One's Own Painful Hand Positioned in the Contralateral Space Reduces Subjective Reports of Pain and Modulates Laser Evoked Potentials. The Journal of Pain. 16 (6), 499-507

Valentini, E., Koch, K., Nicolardi, V. and Aglioti, SM., (2015). Mortality salience modulates cortical responses to painful somatosensory stimulation: Evidence from slow wave and delta band activity. NeuroImage. 120, 12-24

Martini, M., Lee, MCH., Valentini, E. and Iannetti, GD., (2015). Intracortical modulation, and not spinal inhibition, mediates placebo analgesia. European Journal of Neuroscience. 41 (4), 498-504

Zhao, C., Valentini, E. and Hu, L., (2015). Functional features of crossmodal mismatch responses. Experimental Brain Research. 233 (2), 617-629

Porciello, G., Crostella, F., Liuzza, MT., Valentini, E. and Aglioti, SM., (2014). rTMS-induced virtual lesion of the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) alters the control of reflexive shifts of social attention triggered by pointing hands. Neuropsychologia. 59 (1), 148-156

Valentini, E., Koch, K. and Aglioti, SM., (2014). Thoughts of Death Modulate Psychophysical and Cortical Responses to Threatening Stimuli. PLoS ONE. 9 (11), e112324-e112324

Valentini, E., Martini, M., Lee, M., Aglioti, SM. and Iannetti, G., (2014). Seeing facial expressions enhances placebo analgesia. Pain. 155 (4), 666-673

Hu, L., Valentini, E., Zhang, ZG., Liang, M. and Iannetti, GD., (2014). The primary somatosensory cortex contributes to the latest part of the cortical response elicited by nociceptive somatosensory stimuli in humans. NeuroImage. 84, 383-393

Valentini, E., Martini, M., Lee, M., Aglioti, SM. and Iannetti, GD., (2014). Corrigendum to “Seeing facial expressions enhances placebo analgesia” [PAIN® 155(4) (2014) 666–673]. Pain. 155 (8), 1676-1676

Martini, M., Valentini, E. and Aglioti, SM., (2013). Emotional conflict in a model modulates nociceptive processing in an onlooker: a laser-evoked potentials study. Experimental Brain Research. 225 (2), 237-245

Valentini, E., Betti, V., Hu, L. and Aglioti, SM., (2013). Hypnotic modulation of pain perception and of brain activity triggered by nociceptive laser stimuli. Cortex. 49 (2), 446-462

Ronga, I., Valentini, E., Mouraux, A. and Iannetti, GD., (2013). Novelty is not enough: laser-evoked potentials are determined by stimulus saliency, not absolute novelty. Journal of Neurophysiology. 109 (3), 692-701

Hu, L., Zhao, C., Li, H. and Valentini, E., (2013). Mismatch responses evoked by nociceptive stimuli. Psychophysiology. 50 (2), 158-173

Hu, L., Peng, W., Valentini, E., Zhang, Z. and Hu, Y., (2013). Functional Features of Nociceptive-Induced Suppression of Alpha Band Electroencephalographic Oscillations. The Journal of Pain. 14 (1), 89-99

Wang, WY., Hu, L., Valentini, E., Xie, XB., Cui, HY. and Hu, Y., (2012). Dynamic characteristics of multisensory facilitation and inhibition. Cognitive Neurodynamics. 6 (5), 409-419

Valentini, E., Liang, M., Aglioti, SM. and Iannetti, GD., (2012). Seeing touch and pain in a stranger modulates the cortical responses elicited by somatosensory but not auditory stimulation. Human Brain Mapping. 33 (12), 2873-2884

Valentini, E. and Koch, K., (2012). Fine-grained analysis of shared neural circuits between perceived and observed pain: implications for the study of empathy for pain. Journal of Neurophysiology. 108 (7), 1805-1807

Legrain, V., Mancini, F., Sambo, CF., Torta, DM., Ronga, I. and Valentini, E., (2012). Cognitive aspects of nociception and pain. Bridging neurophysiology with cognitive psychology. Neurophysiologie Clinique/Clinical Neurophysiology. 42 (5), 325-336

Torta, DM., Liang, M., Valentini, E., Mouraux, A. and Iannetti, GD., (2012). Dishabituation of laser-evoked EEG responses: dissecting the effect of certain and uncertain changes in stimulus spatial location. Experimental Brain Research. 218 (3), 361-372

Valentini, E., Hu, L., Chakrabarti, B., Hu, Y., Aglioti, SM. and Iannetti, GD., (2012). The primary somatosensory cortex largely contributes to the early part of the cortical response elicited by nociceptive stimuli. NeuroImage. 59 (2), 1571-1581

Valentini, E., (2011). The Role of Perceptual Expectation on Repetition Suppression: A Quest to Dissect the Differential Contribution of Probability of Occurrence and Event Predictability. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 5, 143-

Valentini, E., Torta, DME., Mouraux, A. and Iannetti, GD., (2011). Dishabituation of Laser-evoked EEG Responses: Dissecting the Effect of Certain and Uncertain Changes in Stimulus Modality. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 23 (10), 2822-2837

Valentini, E., Ferrara, M., Presaghi, F., De Gennaro, L. and Curcio, G., (2011). Republished review: Systematic review and meta-analysis of psychomotor effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 87 (1031), 643-651

(2010). Corrections. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 67 (12), 877-877

Valentini, E., Ferrara, M., Presaghi, F., Gennaro, LD. and Curcio, G., (2010). Systematic review and meta-analysis of psychomotor effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 67 (10), 708-716

Valentini, E., (2010). The Role of Anterior Insula and Anterior Cingulate in Empathy for Pain. Journal of Neurophysiology. 104 (2), 584-586

Curcio, G., Valentini, E., Moroni, F., Ferrara, M., De Gennaro, L. and Bertini, M., (2008). Psychomotor performance is not influenced by brief repeated exposures to mobile phones. Bioelectromagnetics. 29 (3), 237-241

Curcio, G. and Valentini, E., (2008). Response to comments by Balzano and Swicord on “neurophysiological effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields on humans: A comprehensive review”. Bioelectromagnetics. 29 (5), 411-411

Valentini, E., Curcio, G., Moroni, F., Ferrara, M., De Gennaro, L. and Bertini, M., (2007). Neurophysiological effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields on humans: A comprehensive review. Bioelectromagnetics. 28 (6), 415-432

Reports and Papers (1)

Valentini, E., Halder, S., McInnersey, D., Cooke, J. and Romei, V., (2019). Assessing the specificity of the relationship between brain alpha oscillations and tonic pain

Grants and funding


The painful awareness of death: influence of thoughts of death on behavioural and cerebral activity associated with painful nociceptive stimuli

Bial Foundation


+44 (0) 1206 873710


4.701, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

"open door" policy 9-18