Giacomo Rizzolatti

University of Parma

Primary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type:
International Member (elected 2012)

Research Interests

Giacomo Rizzolatti started his independent research in neuroscience in the early seventies at the University of Parma on superior colliculus and lateral geniculate body of the cat. In the early eighties he initiated his studies on monkeys. These studies led to a new parcellation of the agranularmotor cortex, to the discovery of the peripersonal space, to the description of the functional properties of areas F5, and F4, to the discovery of are F6 or area pre-SMA, and the description of the "when neurons" in F6. In the late eighties he started a long lasting collaboration with M. Arbib, M. Jeannerod, and H. Sakata. This collaboration has led to a new view on how object affordances are transformed into motor acts and the definition of the parieto-frontal circuit (AIP- F5 circuit) underlying this capacity. Simultaneously, he was involved in neuropsychological studies on neglect, and on psychological studies on attention in healthy volunteers. These studies led to the formulation of the "Motor theory of attention". In the nineties he discovered the mirror mechanism and his work during the subsequent 10 years was mostly focused on this discovery.

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