Niccolo Pescetelli

DPhil student

Dept of Experimental Psychology
South Parks Road

Phone:    (01865) 271302
Fax:         (01865) 310447
Email:     niccolo.pescetelli <at>

Curriculum Vitae
I did my BSc. at the Università degli Studi di Padova where I took a degree cum laude in Cognitive Sciences and Psychobiology. I did my internship in the Human Technology Lab of Luciano Gamberini and Anna Spagnolli. As an intern I worked on the European Commission FP7 CEEDs project.

I then took an MSc. Dual Masters in Brain and Mind Sciences, spending one year in UCL, London, and one in UPMC and ENS, Paris. In both cities I combined taught courses with experimental practice. In London I developed my passion for crowd cognition and information processing at the collective level. There I worked with Bahador Bahrami, who at the time was in the Awareness Group of Geraint Rees. My project focused on the link between metacognition and cooperation among partners in dyads of interacting individuals. In Paris I worked in INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Neurospin center, supervised by Stanislas Dehaene and Jean-Remi King, getting for the first time in touch with magnetoencephalography and multivariate pattern analysis.

In 2013 I won a Clarendon Scholarship that allowed me to start my DPhil at the University of Oxford in the fall of the same year. I currently work in the ACC lab within the metacognition team.

My main research focus is on decision-making and information processes in social contexts. I’m interested in how people interacting together share, transform and integrate information in order to make individual and collective decisions, often reaching outstanding results (e.g. Wisdom of Crowds and 2-Heads-Better-Than-One effects). During my PhD I want to investigate the properties of networks of recursively interacting agents by studying their behaviour and dynamics in Opinion Space. In particular I’m looking at how people decisions and sense of confidence are affected by social interaction. The main tools I’m using are Signal Detection Theory (SDT), Bayesian and Agent-Based modelling and analysis of behavioural results.

My first research question is whether people are able to judge the reliability of their partners in the absence of objective feedback and what are the likely underlying mechanisms. For this purpose, I am using a modified advice-revise paradigm where people make a decision and then are offered the possibility to revise their own judgement after knowing the opinion of a virtual partner. It is known that people are affected by an ego-centric bias- meaning that they overestimate their opinions and underestimate the opinions of others. After repeated interactions with the same partners however, people change the weight given to others’ decisions allowing them to be more influential on their own choices. By comparing human performance with an optimal Bayesian observer, we can identify differences and similarities and possibly understand the neural mechanisms underlying these processes.

My second research question focuses on what are the informational characteristics of ecological social interaction. For this purpose, we are bringing together two (or more) people to the lab and make them interact through a virtual environment. Later, their behaviour is analysed both at the individual and collective level in order to understand how interaction affects what the single individuals do and think and whether a machine can simulate the ecological behaviour of a social partner.

Pescetelli, N. Rees, G., Bahrami, B. The perceptual and social components of metacognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

King, J.R.*, Pescetelli, N.*, Dehaene, S. Selective maintenance mechanisms of seen and unseen sensory features in the human brain. Neuron (under revision)

Pescetelli, N., Yeung, N. Calibration and accuracy detection in social partners in the absence of objective feedback (in prep.)

Pescetelli, N., Yeung, N. Real-time uncertainty update during interactive and non-interactive social exchange (in prep.)