I graduated in Philosophy at the University of Milan, Italy, and received my PhD in Philosophy of Mind at Rutgers, N.J.. I have been a member of the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, Paris, where I learned the little experimental psychology I know of, thanks to the help of friends and colleagues. I then entered the University of Paris 8, France as an associate professor. I moved to Italy at SISSA, Trieste, then to the University of Nantes, France, as a full professor, and finally to Barcelona, at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, as an ICREA professor. I have also been visiting professor at the University of Budapest, Hungary, at the University of the Balearic Islands, Spain, and at New York University.
I am fascinated by thinking, by the very fact that we conceive structured states of mind that can be true or false, that can be imaginary or real. I am fascinated by how pervasively thinking populates our mental life. We reason when we read, or when we speak, but also when we walk around, or when we dream. Indeed, thinking is at the roots of the unique cognitive place humans have in the animal kingdom. Yet, the nature and origin of human thought, and with it, of our ability to acquire and communicate knowledge, is one of the outstanding mysteries in the cognitive sciences. I investigate its early structure, finding ways to describe the potential primitives of the scaffoldings supporting the combinatorial structure of human thought. I try to reveal bits and pieces of the representations underlying our abilities to come to conclusions, to form expectations, or to find what happens next, both when we deal with the physical world around us and the psychological world inside us. I approach these issues with a mix of experimental techniques, with adults and infants.
When time allows, I also work on how infants and adults find linguistic structure in speech, and how we can pack so much conceptual information inside those tiny and odd bits of sounds that we call words.