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MANIBUS (Movement ANd body In Behavioral and physiological neUroScience)



ERC Sectors

LS5_1 - Neuronal cells
LS5_8 - Neural basis of behaviour
SH4_3 - Clinical and health psychology
SH4_4 - Neuropsychology


With our hands (manibus, in latin) we act and make gestures, we interface with objects in the outer world and interact with our peers. With the hands, we may caress, but also defend ourselves from a potential danger. With the hands, we may use tools able to extend body limits. MANIBUS group mainly deals with body representation, both in normal and pathological conditions, with a special focus on sensory-motor aspects, defensive behaviors, and adaptive phenomena. Our research is characterized by the adoption of a neuropsychological approach where behavioral alterations, due to brain lesions or reproduced by specific experimental manipulations, are observed through neuroimaging techniques (fMRI and EEG), psychophysiological measurements (SCR, EMG, Heartbeat), or through experimental paradigms involving non-invasive brain stimulation (tDCS and TMS).

Research topics


The ability to perceive our effectors as parts of a unitary and coherent body schema is often taken for granted. Conversely, this percept is grounded on a complex balance between aprioristic constraints, defining body representations, and the on-line multisensory integration of touch, vision, proprioception, and interoception. How does the brain recognize own-body parts? Which mechanisms are implicated in the distinction between the own body and the others' body? How can we manipulate the body awareness in normal subjects? How can we make inferences on the normal functioning of the human brain starting from pathological alterations of body representation in neuropsychological disorders? 


A fundamental component of the self-awareness is the sensation that we are acting with our own body. Through our movements, the body becomes a tool to act in the world and to interact with other individuals.  Thus, a coherent sense of self implies the existence of a tight link between the sense of body ownership and the motor system. Which mechanisms allow us to plan our own actions and to predict their consequences? Can programming, executing, and imaging movements be considered as distinct processes? How can we become aware of our actions? What can we infer from the pathological alterations of motor awareness in neuropsychological disorders?


External stimuli representing potential threats may suddenly approach the body. Therefore, for the sake of survival, a continuous assessment of environmental threat positions according to a body reference frame is essential to define a safety margin within which we have to protect our body. Which defensive mechanisms are we equipped with to defend the body? How does the brain combine the multimodal (sensory, motor, and proprioceptive) information coming from the body to provide an appropriate defensive response? How can we investigate and modulate the boundaries of the defensive peripersonal space? What can we infer from the observation of defensive mechanisms employed in pathological contexts?


Our body is constantly modeled by the interaction with the environment. Within the body, the brain is the organ better representing this adaptive ability. Simple experimental manipulations, such as the rubber hand illusion or prismatic adaptation, by providing incongruent or altered sensory inputs, may induce plastic effects in some specific brain areas. Within the motor system, the immobilization of a limb may modulate cortical excitability. Similarly, a tool repeatedly employed to perform a task may be embodied, thus widening the neural representation of the body, now including the tool and the space that can be reached through its use. Another promising research field is represented by the study of body and brain plasticity phenomena induced by altered gravitational inputs, such as microgravity conditions experienced by astronauts. How can we investigate such plastic effects and exploit these modulations to get further hints on how self-body representation is built and updated in the normal functioning brain?

Future Issues


We are now performing a series of pilot experiments, investigating the neurophysiological correlate of body awareness. By employing electroencephalography (EEG) to record (visual, tactile, and motor) event-related potentials, we aim at observing possible electrophysiological indexes of body awareness in normal conditions or following body ownership experimental manipulations or pathological alterations.


In collaboration with Sant’Anna University Hospital (Clinica Universitaria di Ginecologia e Ostetricia di Neonatologia – Città della Scienza e della Salute di Torino), we are performing a series of pilot studies on fetuses (observing eye movements recorded by sonography) and newborns (employing EEG), exploiting multisensory integration mechanisms to investigate the development of body awareness from an ontogenetic point of view.


In collaboration with Leonardo Fogassi (University of Parma), we are performing some pilot experiments focusing on the phylogenetic development of body awareness, with the aim of outlining possible comparative studies between human and non-human primates.


We are carrying out some pilot studies aiming at evaluating possible rehabilitative approaches to be employed with brain-damaged patients, showing body awareness deficits. Possible rehabilitative techniques would be based on brain plasticity phenomena and would combine multisensory trainings with protocols of non-invasive brain stimulation promoting functional connectivity among primary as well as associative sensory areas.


National and international co-authors are indicated in our publications list. Here, we highlight only colleagues involved in co-funding and in co-tutoring of PhD students.

  • Lorenzo Bello (Humanitas Research Hospital, Neurosurgical Oncology Department, Rozzano, Italy) (project MIUR-SIR RBSI146V1D)
  • Gabriella Cerri (Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine, University of Milan, Italy) (progetto MIUR-SIR RBSI146V1D)
  • Mark Schram Christensen (Cognitive Motor Neuroscience section of Copenhagen Neural Control of Movement Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, Danimarca) (co-tutor IBRO InEurope Short Stay).
  • Leonardo Fogassi (Dipartimento di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università di Parma, Italy) (project San Paolo CSTO165140)
  • Giandomenico Iannetti Department of Neuroscience, University College of London, UK) (project MIUR-SIR RBSI146V1D e co-tutor Erasmus Placement)
  • Hubert Preißl (Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology, University Tübingen, Germany) (project San Paolo CSTO165140)
  • Tullia Todros (Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche, Università di Torino, Italy) (project San Paolo CSTO165140)
  • Elia Valentini (Department of Psychology, University of Essex) (co-tutor Erasmus Placement)


ABO-COBRA: The Active Body in the Conscious Brain: physiological basis of motor and corporeal awareness (RBSI146V1D). MIUR-SIR (Scientific Independence of Young Researchers) Grant 2014. Anni: 2015-2018. Euro: 462.000. PI: Francesca Garbarini 

BAMBI: The body in human and monkey brain” (CSTO165140). Excellent Young PI 2016, Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo. Anni: 2017-2019. Euro: 78.966. PI: Francesca Garbarini

RHI-micorG: The role of gravitational input in shaping the sensation of bodily ownership”. FLY Your Thesis!2017 project. Agenzia Spaziale Europea (ESA). Anni: 2016-17. Euro 7.686. Finanziato a Valentina Bruno (in collaborazione con Pietro Sarasso).

Equipment and tools at the disposal of staff research

In Use

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator (Magstim Rapid2)
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (HDCstim, Newronika) tDCS
  • EEG system (HandyEEG, Micromed)
  • Constant current stimulator (DS7AH, Digitimer)
  • Polygraph Biopac MP150 (composed of an electromyogram amplifier – EMG, Skin conductance – SCR; Electrocardiogram amplifier)
  • Virtual Reality (Oculus Rift 3)
  • Eye tracker (Arrington Research)
  • Setting rubber hand illusion (prosthesis hands and box)
  • Prismatic lenses (11 diopters)  

Necessary for research developing

  • fMRI Philips 3 Tesla, available at the Neuroimaging centre of NIT (Ospedale Molinette, Città della Salute e della Scienza).
  • Fetal-MEG, available at the MEG Center, University of Tübingen, Germany
  • 4D Sonographic scanner (Samsung) available at Clinica Universitaria, Ospedale Sant’Anna (Città della Scienza e della Salute, Torino)
  • Infrared neodymium yttrium aluminium perovskite (Nd:YAP) laser (Electronical Engineering, Florence, Italy), available at the Neuroimaging centre of NIT (Ospedale Molinette, Città della Salute e della Scienza).



Ronga I, Garbarini F, Neppi-Modona M, Fossataro C, Pyasik M, Bruno V, Sarasso P, Barra G, Frigerio M, Chiotti VC, Pia L. (2018) 'See Me, Feel Me': Prismatic Adaptation of an Alien Limb Ameliorates Spatial Neglect in a Patient Affected by Pathological Embodiment. Frontiers in psychology 9 2726 [DOI  PMID]

Pyasik M, Capozzi F, Sigaudo M, Cardillo S, Pia L, Rocca P, Garbarini F. (2018) I do not know whether you did that: Abnormal implicit attribution of social causality in patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia research [DOI  PMID]

Fossataro C, Bruno V, Gindri P, Garbarini F. (2018) Defending the Body Without Sensing the Body Position: Physiological Evidence in a Brain-Damaged Patient With a Proprioceptive Deficit. Frontiers in psychology 9 2458 [DOI  PMID]

Dell'Anna A, Fossataro C, Burin D, Bruno V, Salatino A, Garbarini F, Pia L, Ricci R, Leman M, Berti A. (2018) Entrainment beyond embodiment. Neuropsychologia 119 233-240 [DOI  PMID]

Fossataro C, Bruno V, Giurgola S, Bolognini N, Garbarini F. (2018) Losing my hand. Body ownership attenuation after virtual lesion of the primary motor cortex. The European journal of neuroscience 48(6) 2272-2287 [DOI  PMID]

Ronga I, Sarasso P, Fossataro C, Salatino A, Garbarini F, Ricci R, Neppi-Modona M. (2018) Everything is illuminated: Prismatic adaptation lowers visual detection threshold in normal subjects. Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance 44(10) 1619-1628 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Cecchetti L, Bruno V, Mastropasqua A, Fossataro C, Massazza G, Sacco K, Valentini MC, Ricciardi E, Berti A. (2019) To Move or Not to Move? Functional Role of Ventral Premotor Cortex in Motor Monitoring During Limb Immobilization. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) 29(1) 273-282 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Bisio A, Biggio M, Pia L, Bove M. (2018) Motor sequence learning and intermanual transfer with a phantom limb. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior 101 181-191 [DOI  PMID]

Bruno V, Fossataro C, Garbarini F. (2018) Inhibition or facilitation? Modulation of corticospinal excitability during motor imagery. Neuropsychologia 111 360-368 [DOI  PMID]

Fossataro C, Bucchioni G, D'Agata F, Bruno V, Morese R, Krystkowiak P, Garbarini F. (2018) Anxiety-dependent modulation of motor responses to pain expectancy. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience 13(3) 321-330 [DOI  PMID]

Piedimonte A, Conson M, Frolli A, Bari S, Della Gatta F, Rabuffetti M, Keller R, Berti A, Garbarini F. (2018) Dissociation between executed and imagined bimanual movements in autism spectrum conditions. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research 11(2) 376-384 [DOI  PMID]

Bruno V, Fossataro C, Garbarini F. (2018) Report of seizure induced by 10 Hz rTMS over M1. Brain stimulation 11(2) 454-455 [DOI  PMID]

Burin D, Garbarini F, Bruno V, Fossataro C, Destefanis C, Berti A, Pia L. (2017) Movements and body ownership: Evidence from the rubber hand illusion after mechanical limb immobilization. Neuropsychologia 107 41-47 [DOI  PMID]

Bruno V, Fossataro C, Bolognini N, Zigiotto L, Vallar G, Berti A, Garbarini F. (2017) The role of premotor and parietal cortex during monitoring of involuntary movement: A combined TMS and tDCS study. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior 96 83-94 [DOI  PMID]

Fossataro C, Bruno V, Gindri P, Pia L, Berti A, Garbarini F. (2018) Feeling touch on the own hand restores the capacity to visually discriminate it from someone else' hand: Pathological embodiment receding in brain-damaged patients. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior 104 207-219 [DOI  PMID]

Della Gatta F, Garbarini F, Rabuffetti M, Vigano L, Butterfill SA, Sinigaglia C. (2017) Drawn together: When motor representations ground joint actions. Cognition 165 53-60 [DOI  PMID]

Bisio A, Garbarini F, Biggio M, Fossataro C, Ruggeri P, Bove M. (2017) Dynamic Shaping of the Defensive Peripersonal Space through Predictive Motor Mechanisms: When the "Near" Becomes "Far". The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 37(9) 2415-2424 [DOI  PMID]

Della Gatta F, Garbarini F, Puglisi G, Leonetti A, Berti A, Borroni P. (2016) Decreased motor cortex excitability mirrors own hand disembodiment during the rubber hand illusion. eLife 5 [DOI  PMID]

Bucchioni G, Fossataro C, Cavallo A, Mouras H, Neppi-Modona M, Garbarini F. (2016) Empathy or Ownership? Evidence from Corticospinal Excitability Modulation during Pain Observation. Journal of cognitive neuroscience 28(11) 1760-1771 [DOI  PMID]

Pia L, Garbarini F, Fossataro C, Burin D, Berti A. (2016) Sensing the body, representing the body: Evidence from a neurologically based delusion of body ownership. Cognitive neuropsychology 33(1-2) 112-9 [DOI  PMID]

Ricci R, Salatino A, Garbarini F, Ronga I, Genero R, Berti A, Neppi-Modona M. (2016) Effects of attentional and cognitive variables on unilateral spatial neglect. Neuropsychologia 92 158-166 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Mastropasqua A, Sigaudo M, Rabuffetti M, Piedimonte A, Pia L, Rocca P. (2016) Abnormal Sense of Agency in Patients with Schizophrenia: Evidence from Bimanual Coupling Paradigm. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience 10 43 [DOI  PMID]

Piedimonte A, Garbarini F, Pia L, Mezzanato T, Berti A. (2016) From intention to perception: The case of anosognosia for hemiplegia. Neuropsychologia 87 43-53 [DOI  PMID]

Capozzi F, Becchio C, Garbarini F, Savazzi S, Pia L. (2016) Temporal perception in joint action: This is MY action. Consciousness and cognition 40 26-33 [DOI  PMID]

Pia L, Garbarini F, Burin D, Fossataro C, Berti A. (2015) A predictive nature for tactile awareness? Insights from damaged and intact central-nervous-system functioning. Frontiers in human neuroscience 9 287 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Rabuffetti M, Piedimonte A, Solito G, Berti A. (2015) Bimanual coupling effects during arm immobilization and passive movements. Human movement science 41 114-26 [DOI  PMID]

Burin D, Livelli A, Garbarini F, Fossataro C, Folegatti A, Gindri P, Pia L. (2015) Are movements necessary for the sense of body ownership? Evidence from the rubber hand illusion in pure hemiplegic patients. PloS one 10(3) e0117155 [DOI  PMID]

Piedimonte A, Garbarini F, Rabuffetti M, Pia L, Montesano A, Ferrarin M, Berti A. (2015) Invisible grasps: Grip interference in anosognosia for hemiplegia. Neuropsychology 29(5) 776-81 [DOI  PMID]

Pia L, Spinazzola L, Garbarini F, Bellan G, Piedimonte A, Fossataro C, Livelli A, Burin D, Berti A. (2014) Anosognosia for hemianaesthesia: a voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping study. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior 61 158-66 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Fossataro C, Berti A, Gindri P, Romano D, Pia L, della Gatta F, Maravita A, Neppi-Modona M. (2015) When your arm becomes mine: pathological embodiment of alien limbs using tools modulates own body representation. Neuropsychologia 70 402-13 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Boero R, D'Agata F, Bravo G, Mosso C, Cauda F, Duca S, Geminiani G, Sacco K. (2014) Neural correlates of gender differences in reputation building. PloS one 9(9) e106285 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Fornia L, Fossataro C, Pia L, Gindri P, Berti A. (2014) Embodiment of others' hands elicits arousal responses similar to one's own hands. Current biology : CB 24(16) R738-9 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Pia L. (2013) Bimanual coupling paradigm as an effective tool to investigate productive behaviors in motor and body awareness impairments. Frontiers in human neuroscience 7 737 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, D'Agata F, Piedimonte A, Sacco K, Rabuffetti M, Tam F, Cauda F, Pia L, Geminiani G, Duca S, Graham SJ, Berti A. (2014) Drawing lines while imagining circles: Neural basis of the bimanual coupling effect during motor execution and motor imagery. NeuroImage 88 100-12 [DOI  PMID]

Piedimonte A, Garbarini F, Rabuffetti M, Pia L, Berti A. (2014) Executed and imagined bimanual movements: a study across different ages. Developmental psychology 50(4) 1073-80 [DOI  PMID]

Pia L, Garbarini F, Fossataro C, Fornia L, Berti A. (2013) Pain and body awareness: evidence from brain-damaged patients with delusional body ownership. Frontiers in human neuroscience 7 298 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Pia L, Piedimonte A, Rabuffetti M, Gindri P, Berti A. (2013) Embodiment of an alien hand interferes with intact-hand movements. Current biology : CB 23(2) R57-8 [DOI  PMID]

Pia L, Spinazzola L, Rabuffetti M, Ferrarin M, Garbarini F, Piedimonte A, Driver J, Berti A. (2013) Temporal coupling due to illusory movements in bimanual actions: evidence from anosognosia for hemiplegia. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior 49(6) 1694-703 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Piedimonte A, Dotta M, Pia L, Berti A. (2013) Dissociations and similarities in motor intention and motor awareness: the case of anosognosia for hemiplegia and motor neglect. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 84(4) 416-9 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Rabuffetti M, Piedimonte A, Pia L, Ferrarin M, Frassinetti F, Gindri P, Cantagallo A, Driver J, Berti A. (2012) 'Moving' a paralysed hand: bimanual coupling effect in patients with anosognosia for hemiplegia. Brain : a journal of neurology 135(Pt 5) 1486-97 [DOI  PMID]

Garbarini F, Adenzato M. (2004) At the root of embodied cognition: cognitive science meets neurophysiology. Brain and cognition 56(1) 100-6 [DOI  PMID]

Preliminary results

Bruno, V., Ronga, I., Fossataro, C., Capozzi, F., & Garbarini, F. (2018). Suppressing movements with a phantom limb: an ERP study. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 131S, S86.

Fossataro, C., Ronga, I., Bruno, V., & Garbarini, F. (2018). Visual Enhancement of Touch and Body Ownership. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 131S, S100.

Ronga, I., Pace, C., Bruno, V., Fossataro, C., Vitiello, P., Todros, T., & Garbarini, F. (2018). (Almost) before your eyes: Preference for face-like configurations in the prenatal life. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 131S, S144.

Fossataro, C., Tieri ,G., Grollero, D., Bruno, V., Garbarini, F. (2018). Hand Blink Reflex in virtual reality: the role of vision and proprioception in modulating defensive responses. Annual Congress of the Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive (SIPF). Torino 15-18 November 2018.

Errante, A., Rozzi, S., Pinardi, C., Brunetti, D., Fogassi, L., Garbarini F. (2018). Body ownership modulation of multisensory integration: an fMRI study of visual enhancement of touch. Annual Congress of the Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive (SIPF). Torino 15-18 November 2018.

Bruno, V., Sarasso, P., Fossataro, C., Ronga, I., Neppi-Modona, M., Garbarini, F. (2018). Illusory body experience in microgravity: the role of vestibular and proprioceptive inputs in shaping the sense of body ownership. Annual Congress of the Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive (SIPF). Torino 15-18 November 2018.

Rossi Sebastiano, A., Bruno, V., Fossataro, C., Ronga, I., Neppi-Modona, M., Garbarini, F. (2018).  Pseudo tactile extinction in healthy subjects mirrors the attenuation of somatosensory precision during the rubber hand illusion. Annual Congress of the Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive (SIPF). Torino 15-18 November 2018.

Ronga, I., Bruno, V., Castellani, N., Galigani, M., Fossataro, C., Neppi-Modona, M., Garbarini F. (2018). Near or far? Electrophysiological evidence of tool-use dependent spatial remapping in humans. Annual Congress of the Società Italiana di Psicofisiologia e Neuroscienze Cognitive (SIPF). Torino 15-18 November 2018.

Ronga, I., Galigani, M., Fossataro, C., Bruno, V., Garbarini F. (2018). Me, my hand, and I. Repeated stimulation highlights a possible correlate of self-body recognition in visual ERPs. MeeTo International Conference – Torino, 25-31 May 2018.

Last update: 26/03/2019 15:38
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