Giovanni Pezzulo.

+39 06 4459 5206
+39 06 4459 5243

Giovanni Pezzulo c/o ISTC-CNR, via S. Martino della Battaglia, 44 00185 Roma, Italy



  • anticipation and goal-directed behavior;
  • cognitive modelling;
  • cognitive robotics;
  • embodiment;
  • philosophy of mind;
Short profile: 

I am a researcher at the 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").

My Website:

My Research:

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).
Related to this general research question, I am exploring a number of interrelated research topics: goal-directed behavior and decision-making (see the webpage of the EU-funded project Goal-Leaders I coordinated); goal-directed spatial navigation and planning (I received a HFSP award to study planning in the rat hippocampus); 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).

You can check my publications here


A list of my current research topics, with representative publications, can be found below:

- Anticipation and goal-directed behavior

Pezzulo, G.; Butz, M. V.; Sigaud, O. & Baldassarre, G. (2009) Anticipatory Behavior in Adaptive Learning Systems: From Psychological Theories to Artificial Cognitive Systems.Springer LNAI 5499

Pezzulo, G.; Butz, M. V.; Castelfranchi, C. & Falcone, R., eds (2008) The Challenge of Anticipation: A Unifying Framework for the Analysis and Design of Artificial Cognitive Systems Springer LNAI 5225

Pezzulo, G. (2007) Anticipation and Future-Oriented Capabilites in Natural and Artificial Cognition. 50 Years of AI, Festschrift, 258-271

- Grounding higher cognition in sensorimotor and predictive loops

Pezzulo, G. & Castelfranchi, C. (2009) Thinking as the Control of Imagination: a Conceptual Framework for Goal-Directed Systems. Psychological Research, 73, 559-577

Pezzulo, G. & Castelfranchi, C. (2007) The Symbol Detachment Problem. Cognitive Processing, 8, 115-131

Pezzulo, G.; Barca, L.; Bocconi, A. L. & Borghi, A. M. (2010) When Affordances Climb into your Mind: Advantages of Motor Simulation in a Memory Task Performed by Novice and Expert Rock Climbers. Brain and Cognition, 73, 68-73

Pezzulo, G. (2009) DiPRA: A Layered Agent Architecture which Integrates Practical Reasoning and Sensorimotor Schemas. Connection Science, 21, 297-326

- Representation and prediction

Pezzulo, G. (2011) Grounding Procedural and Declarative Knowledge in Sensorimotor Anticipation. Mind and Language, 26, 78-114

Pezzulo, G. (2008) Coordinating with the Future: the Anticipatory Nature of Representation. Minds and Machines, 18, 179-225

- Grounded and embodied cognition

Pezzulo, G.; Barsalou, L.; Cangelosi, A.; Fischer, M.; McRae, K. & Spivey, M. (2011) The Mechanics of Embodiment: A Dialogue on Embodiment and Computational Modeling. Frontiers in Cognition, 2, 1-21

Pezzulo, G. & Calvi, G. (2009) Computational Explorations of Perceptual Symbol System Theory. New Ideas in Psychology,

- Action understanding, joint action, and the pragmatic foundations of interaction and communication

Pezzulo, G. (2011) Shared representations as coordination tools for interactions. Review of Philosophy and Psychology

Dindo, H.; Zambuto, D. & Pezzulo, G. (2011) Motor simulation via coupled internal models using sequential Monte Carlo. Proceedings of IJCAI 2011, 2113-2119

Pezzulo, G. & Dindo, H. (2011) What should I do next? Using shared representations to solve interaction problems. Experimental Brain Research, 211, 613-630

Pezzulo, G. (in press) The “Interaction Engine”: a Common Pragmatic Competence across Linguistic and Non-Linguistic Interactions. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development

- Goal-directed decision-making and model-based reinforcement learning

Pezzulo, G. & Rigoli, F. (2011) The value of foresight: how prospection affects decision-making. Front. Neurosci., 5

Pezzulo, G.; Rigoli, F. & Chersi, F. (in press) A mixed instrumental controller can combine habitual and goal-directed choice. Proceedings of CogSci 2012


A list of all my publications can be found here


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Thu, 01/01/2009 - Sat, 30/06/2012

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