I am a researcher at the National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies (ISTC-CNR), in Rome. I got a degree in Philosophy of Science (University of Pisa) and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology (University of Rome "La Sapienza").
I use a combination of theoretical, computational and empirical methods to study cognitive processing in humans and other animals, and to realize robots that have similar abilities.
At the moment my main research question is how living organisms (and possibly robots) could develop higher cognition from sensorimotor skills. My tentative answer --in keeping with embodied and motor theories of cognition-- is that the architecture of motor prediction and control of our earlier ancestors was gradually improved to afford cognitive control and executive functions (and in parallel, joint action and communication in the social domain).
With my lab (CONAN LAB) at the ISTC-CNR, I am exploring a number of interrelated research topics: goal-directed behavior and decision-making (see the EU-funded project Goal-Leaders); goal-directed spatial navigation and planning (see my HFSP and HBP projects on planning and the rodent hippocampus; and the ERC project ThinkAhead on human hierarchical planning); perception of affordances (see my project Affordance Landscape Viewer funded by NICOP-ONR); anticipation, anticipatory behavior and action simulation (see the EU-funded project MindRACES); schema-based agent architectures for action control, joint action and communication (see the EU-funded project HUMANOBS); language processing; and the architecture of representation and intentionality - hoping that cognitive science and robotics help answering these old and deep philosophical questions.
My selected publications:
Parr T., Pezzulo G., Friston K. (2022) Active Inference. The Free Energy Principle in Mind, Brain, and Behavior. MIT Press [link]
Pezzulo G., Rigoli, F. Friston, K. (2018) Hierarchical Active Inference: a Theory of Motivated Control. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 22(4), 294-306 [link]
Pezzulo, G., Kemere, C., van der Meer, M. (2017) Internally generated hippocampal sequences as a vantage point to probe future-oriented cognition. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1396, 144-165 [link]
Pezzulo, G., Cisek P. (2016) Navigating the Affordance Landscape: Feedback Control as a Process Model of Behavior and Cognition. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20 (6), 414-424 [link]
Lepora, N., Pezzulo, G. (2015) Embodied Choice: How action influences perceptual decision making. PLOS Computational Biology 11(4): e1004110 [link]
Pezzulo, G., van der Meer MA, Lansink, C. S., Pennartz, C. (2014) Internally generated sequences in learning and executing goal-directed behavior. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(12), 647–657 [link]
Pezzulo, G., Verschure, P., Balkenius, C., Pennartz, C. (2014) The principles of goal-directed decision-making: from neural mechanisms to computation and robotics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 369 20130470 [link]
Pezzulo, G. (2013). Why do you fear the Bogeyman? An embodied predictive coding model of perceptual inference. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience [link]
Pezzulo, G., Barsalou, L., Cangelosi, A., Fischer, M., McRae, K., and Spivey, M. (2013) Computational Grounded Cognition: A New Alliance between Grounded Cognition and Computational Modeling. Frontiers in Psychology, 3:612 [link]
These are two of my (rather old) videolectures: Seeing the world through the lens of a predictive brain at BCBT 2012, Barcelona, and a Presentation of the Goal-Leaders (Goal-directed, Adaptive Builder Robots) EU-funded project at CogSys 2012, Vienna.
This is a podcast of my interview on predictive brains at BCBT 2012, Barcelona.
This is a Special Issue on The principles of goal-directed decision-making: from neural mechanisms to computation and robotics I co-edited for the Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. journal in 2014.