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Dr. Laura Maffongelli

Dr. Laura Maffongelli graduated in Neurolinguistics at the Philipps University of Marburg in 2011. She shortly moved back to her home country where she obtained her Ph.D. in the field of Cognitive Sciences in 2015 from the University of Genova (Italian Institute of Technology, Italy). Her research interests focus on the relation between language and action with respect to the syntactic mechanisms involved. She investigated the neurophysiological basis of the processing of complex action sequences during action observation, first in the adult brain (Robotic, Brain and Cognitive Sciences (RBCS) department at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, 2012-2015) and later on in the infant brain (PostDoc at the University of Zurich, Department of Developmental Psychology, 2015-2017). She further worked as PostDoc at the Scene Grammar Lab of the Goethe University of Frankfurt where she explored the „scene grammar“ as far as syntax is concerned (2018-2019).
She is currently researcher at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz where she further investigates the processing of different complex, hierarchical structures in the language and action domain in kindergarten children. EEG (ERPs), eye tracking and TMS measurements are the basic methodologies of her research. Specific interest of her work lies in how similar phenomena might, or might not, relate to the processing of complex sentences in a language. Her findings point to precisely this connection. A change in the structure of an action, the action syntax, leads- already in children as young as 6 months of age- to similar reactions in the electroencephalogram (EEG) as a comparable violation of the syntax of a sentence heard or read. This also allows conclusions to be drawn about the language development of infants.

Finding similar ERPs in response to domain-independent syntactical irregularities could in long term inform applied research in clinical and rehabilitation contexts: if these components relate to a general syntactic mechanism, they can be used as a marker for risk of later language difficulties.

Publications (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Laura-Maffongelli-2)

1.    Dröge, A., Maffongelli L., Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I. Luigi piace a Laura? Electrophysiological evidence for thematic reanalysis with Italian dative object experiencer verbs, In: Structuring the Argument. Multidisciplinary research on verb argument structure, by Bachrach, Asaf, Isabelle Roy, and Linnaea Stockall (eds.) [LFAB 10, 2014]

2.     D’Ausilio A., Maffongelli L., Fadiga L. L’origine comune di linguaggio e azione. Rivista internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia. 2013; Vol. 4, n.2, 198-203

3.      D’Ausilio A., Maffongelli L., Bartoli E., Campanella M., Ferrari E., Berry J., Fadiga L. Listening to Speech Recruits Specific Tongue Motor Synergies as Revealed by TMS and Tissue Doppler Ultrasound Imaging. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 28;369(1644):20130418

4.     Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Jacono M., D’Ausilio A. Representing tools as hand movements: early and somatotopic visuomotor transformations. Neuropsychologia. 2014; 61:335-44

5.    D’Ausilio A., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Berry J.J., Fadiga L. Vision of tongue movements bias auditory speech perception. Neuropsychologia 2014; 63:85-91
6.     D’Ausilio A., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L. Grasping Synergies: A motor-control approach to the mirror neuron mechanism. Physics of life review 2014; 91-103    

7.     Maffongelli L., Bartoli E., Sammler D., Kölsch S., Campus C., Olivier E., Fadiga L., D ’Ausilio A. Distinct brain signatures of content and structure violation during action observation. Neuropsychologia 2015; 30-39

8.     D’Ausilio A., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L. Motor control may support mirror neuron research with new hypotheses and methods. Reply to comments on “Grasping synergies: A motor-control approach to the mirror neuron mechanism”. Physics of life review 2015; 133-137

9.    Finisguerra A. *, Maffongelli L. *, Bassolino M., Jacono M., Pozzo T., D’Ausilio A. Generalization of motor resonance during the observation of hand, mouth and eye movements. Journal of Neurophysiology 2015; 2295-2304

10.     Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Campus C., D’Ausilio A. Beta rhythm modulation by speech sounds: somatotopic mapping in somatosensory cortex. Scientific Reports 2016; 6: 31182

11.     Schmitz J., Bartoli E., Maffongelli L., Fadiga L., Sebastian-Galles N., D’Ausilio A. Motor cortex compensates for lack of sensory and motor experience during auditory speech perception. Neuropsychologia 2018; 128:290-296

12.    Maffongelli L., Antognini K., Daum M.M. Syntactical regularities of action sequences in the infant brain: When structure matters. Developmental Science, 2018;e12682

13.     Maffongelli, L., D'Ausilio, A., Fadiga, L., & Daum, M. M. The Ontogenesis of Action
Syntax. Collabra: Psychology, 2019; 5(1), 21.

14.     Maffongelli, L*., Ferrari E*., Bartoli E., Campus C., Olivier E., Fadiga L., D’Ausilio A. Role of sensorimotor areas in early detection of motor errors: an EEG and TMS study. Brain
Behavioral Research, 2020; (378),112248.

15.     Maffongelli, L., Öhlschläger, S., VÕ, L.-H., M. The development of scene semantics: First ERP indications for the processing of semantic object-scene inconsistencies in 24-month-olds. Collabra: Psychology, 2020; 6(1).

16.     Lauer, T., Willenbockel, V., Maffongelli, L., VÕ, L.-H., M. The influence of scene and object orientation on the scene constancy effect. Behavioral Brain Research, 2020; (394), 11281.

IFEN *  Institute for EEG-Neurofeedback  *  Karl-Böhm-Str. 50  *  85598 Baldham/Germany
Phone +49 (89) 2000 299 66  *  © 2009-2020 Thomas Feiner

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