Francesca Bianco

Graduate Laboratory Assistant
Department of Psychology
 Francesca Bianco


Ask me about
  • Theory of Mind
  • (False) Beliefs and Intention Recognition
  • Multimodal Processing in the Infant Brain
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Developmental Robotics
  • Human-Robot Interaction
  • Computational Neuroscience


Francesca is from Rome, Italy, and moved to London, UK, in 2014 for her university studies. She completed her Bachelors and Masters degrees at Kings College London, where she had the opportunity to work in different laboratories investigating various topics (Microtubule dynamics and neuritogenesis, electroencephalography and single-pulse electrical stimulation for the treatment of epilepsy, Bayesian computational modelling of social decision making). Francesca has joined the University of Essex in January, 2019 where she started an interdisciplinary PhD in developmental psychology and robotics. She is interested in understanding how human infants develop Theory of mind (ToM) abilities (i.e., the cognitive capacity to understand others intentions, beliefs and desires) and the underlying cognitive processes. Specifically, she is seeking to determine the time in development during which multisensory processes interact with and shape ToM and the associated mechanisms. She is also working towards creating a computational model describing such skills, which could also be implemented in robotic architectures to increase robots social skills and improve human-robot interactions. Ultimately, she is taking advantage of the modern cross-talk between the fields of developmental psychology and robotics to answer some key questions in both fields.


  • BSc Neuroscience King's College London (2017)

  • MSci Neuroscience King's College London (2018)

Research and professional activities


Emergence of Theory of Mind in Robots and Infants: Theory, Experiments and Embodied Models Validation

Theory of Mind (ToM), or mentalising, refers to the cognitive capacity to attribute and represent others’ mental states. Although a definite age at which mentalising develops in humans is yet to be determined, possessing a ToM from an early age is an evident demonstration of its importance for human social navigation. In the literature, several theories describing human ToM exist, however, developing a computational model inspired by the brain processes underlying human mentalising is particular

Supervisor: Silvia Rigato , Maria Laura Filippetti

Research interests

theory of mind, (false ) beliefs and intention recognition, multimodal processing in the infant brain, developmental neuroscience, human-robot interaction, developmental robotics, computational neuroscience



Colchester Campus