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



I lead the “Threat Lab”, a laboratory dedicated to the study of how people perceive negative valence information, how they interpret both physical (i.e. sensory) and psychological (i.e. symbolic) events as threatening. Some keywords of our projects are therefore "threat", "pain", "anxiety", "emotion", "attention". I am an expert in psychophysics and electroencephalography. My past research mostly concerned the study of nociceptive representation in the brain and the experience of pain. This is still an important current research line (Valentini et al., NeuroImage 2022) and is compounded by research into social and cognitive factors affecting chronic pain patients (Valentini et al. European Journal of Pain 2020). An important part of my work as researcher is also oriented towards contributing to a better understanding of cognitive/emotional mechanisms of people's relationship with the emerging awareness of the climate and ecological emergency.


  • PhD Sapienza University of Rome,


Other academic

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

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Climate and ecological emergency

Emotional and cognitive factors influencing perception of the climate and ecological crises as well as impacting individual and collective (in) action. A great deal of research is attempting to understand how we process the rich information associated with dramatic changes in our whole phisical environment. We recently surveyd people the relationship between emotional states, policy support, and environmental engagement. We want to further develop this research line and attempt a longitudinal assessment of how emotional states are associated with the awareness of climate and ecological emergency (CEE), and whether these predict environmental knowledge and self-reported behaviour or are predicted by them cross-culturally in representative samples.

Open to supervise

Existential and symbolic threats

How can symbolic threats alter our behaviour and brain activity? A long-standing theoretical and research endevour 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

Pain and sensory threats

The study of brain specific responses to the experience of pain. 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. Our last experimental work (Valentini et al., Neuroimage 2022) showed how alpha EEG oscillations cannot index tonic pain in a specific fashion. Current and future projects will revolve around further assessing oscillatory information (e.g., frequency and phase), metanalysing previous literature, and developing robust assessment of neural responses to unpleasant sensory stimulation.

Open to supervise

Emotional facial expressions

Are different facial expressions linked to different explicit and implicit patterns of trust? Do facial expression influence the way we experience pain or even our placebo response?

Key words: emotion
Open to supervise

Self-harm and trauma

Self-harm, childhood trauma, and body awareness, emotional and physical pain regulation might be tied by a shared mechanism. We are currently investigating the mediating role of trauma in the relationship between self-harm behaviour and individual differences in personality measures.

Key words: emotional regulation
Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Crisi climatica e salute psichica

Invited presentation, Conferenza Ordine Psicologi Veneto, online conference, 22/4/2022

Scientists on Hunger Strike for the Planet

Invited presentation, EcoFestival, Colchester, 4/9/2021

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

  • Brain and Behaviour (PS411)

  • Psychology of Global Challenges (PS424)

  • 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)

Previous supervision

Istvan Laszlo Gyimes
Istvan Laszlo Gyimes
Thesis title: The Painful Awareness of Death: Influence of Thoughts of Death on Behavioural and Cerebral Activity Associated with Painful Nociceptive Stimuli
Degree subject: Neuropsychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 21/6/2022
Achilleas Pavlou
Achilleas Pavlou
Thesis title: Empirical Investigations of Lucid Dream Induction Methods and Individual Differences in Lucid Dream Frequency
Degree subject: Neuropsychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 4/10/2021
Milla Grigorova
Milla Grigorova
Thesis title: Gender Differences in Bystanders' Intention to Help Towards Female and Male Victims of Domestic Violence: A Web-Based Online Survey
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Master of Science (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 19/4/2021
Chengetai Charidza
Chengetai Charidza
Degree subject: Psychology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 18/11/2020
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 (43)

Van Der Biest, M., Cracco, E., Riva, P. and Valentini, E., (2023). Should I trust you? Investigating trustworthiness judgements of painful facial expressions. Acta Psychologica. 235, 103893-103893

Gyimes, IL. and Valentini, E., (2023). Reminders of Mortality: Investigating the Effects of Different Mortality Saliences on Somatosensory Neural Activity. Brain Sciences. 13 (7), 1077-1077

Valentini, E., Shindy, A., Witkovsky, V., Stankewitz, A. and Schulz, E., (2023). Interindividual variability and individual stability of pain- and touch-related neuronal gamma oscillations. Journal of Neurophysiology. 129 (6), 1400-1413

Valentini, E., (2022). Neurological Markers of Maladaptive Brain Activity in Fibromyalgia and their Relationship with Treatment Effectiveness. Journal of Trial and Error. 2 (1), 92-98

Valentini, E., Halder, S., McInnerney, D., Cooke, J., Gyimes, IL. and Romei, V., (2022). Assessing the specificity of the relationship between brain alpha oscillations and tonic pain. NeuroImage. 255, 119143-119143

Racimo, F., Valentini, E., Rijo De León, G., Santos, TL., Norberg, A., Atmore, LM., Murray, M., Hakala, SM., Olsen, FA., Gardner, CJ. and Halder, JB., (2022). The biospheric emergency calls for scientists to change tactics.. eLife. 11, e83292-

Ronga, I., Galigani, M., Bruno, V., Castellani, N., Rossi Sebastiano, A., Valentini, E., Fossataro, C., Neppi-Modona, M. and Garbarini, F., (2021). Seeming confines: Electrophysiological evidence of peripersonal space remapping following tool-use in humans. Cortex. 144, 133-150

Liebisch, AP., Eggert, T., Shindy, A., Valentini, E., Irving, S., Stankewitz, A. and Schulz, E., (2021). A novel tool for the removal of muscle artefacts from EEG: Improving data quality in the gamma frequency range.. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 358, 109217-109217

Valentini, E., Fetter, E. and Orbell, S., (2020). Treatment preferences in fibromyalgia patients: A cross‐sectional web‐based survey. European Journal of Pain. 24 (7), 1290-1300

Stefanics, G., Heinzle, J., Czigler, I., Valentini, E. and Stephan, KE., (2020). Timing of repetition suppression of event-related potentials to unattended objects. European Journal of Neuroscience. 52 (11), 4432-4441

Valentini, E. and Schulz, E., (2020). Automatised application of pinprick-evoked potentials improves investigation of central sensitisation in humans.. Clinical Neurophysiology. 131 (10), 2482-2483

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

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

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

Book chapters (1)

Valentini, E., Vaughan, S. and Clauwaert, A., (2023). Qualia, Brain Waves, and Spinal Reflexes: The Study of Pain Perception by Means of Subjective Reports, Electroencephalography, and Electromyography. In: Neuromethods. Springer US. 129- 159. 9781071630679

Reports and Papers (4)

Hignell, B., Saleemi, Z. and Valentini, E., (2022). The role of emotions on policy support and environmental engagement

Liebisch, AP., Eggert, T., Shindy, A., Valentini, E., Irving, S., Stankewitz, A. and Schulz, E., (2021). A Novel Tool for the Removal of Muscle Artefacts from EEG: Improving Data Quality in the Gamma Frequency Range

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

valentini, E., Fetter, E. and Orbell, S., (2019). Treatment preferences in fibromyalgia patients: A cross-sectional web-based survey

Grants and funding


August International KTP 3 Application (2021)

Innovate UK (formerly Technology Strategy Board)


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