Scholarship code CU4.293

The neuro-cognitive bases of sustainable decision-making

  • Reference person
  • Host University/Institute
    IUSS Pavia
  • Internship
  • Research Keywords
    Sustainable decision-making
    Cognitive modulators of decision-making
    Neuroscience of decision-making
  • Reference ERCs
    LS5_9 N
    SH4_7 R
    SH1_7 B
  • Reference SDGs
    GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
    GOAL 4: Quality Education
    GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production


This project first aims to develop and validate novel tools for assessing the disposition towards sustainable (vs. Selfish) decision-making, using both explicit measures such as questionnaires and implicit measures such as the implicit association test, as well as metrics of choice-related brain activity resulting from neurophysiological response such as electroencephalography (EEG) and/or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Once validated against simpler and well-established measures of sustainability such as the Fish-game, the developed tools will be used to investigate whether, and to what extent, a sustainable decision-making aptitude can be modulated by different experimental manipulations. These will include, for instance, the cognitive framing of the decisional problem and its outcomes (e.G.In terms of gains vs. Losses), the perception of emotional cues, and the degree of realism of its presentation (e.G., by comparing choices elicited by immersive virtual-reality vs. A standard experimental setup with stimuli presented on a PC-screen). Again, the effects of these experimental manipulations will be assessed both at the behavioral level and in terms of neurophysiological brain response, using an innovative immersive-EEG experimental setup. This project is expected to result in distinct outputs, including deliverables (i.E., tools for measuring a sustainable decision-making aptitude) and scientific articles reporting their applications in neuro-cognitive settings. Overall, these outcomes are expected to help refining the available socio-cognitive models of sustainable choice, thus paving the way to further multidisciplinary extensions of the inquiry on the cognitive precursors of sustainable decision-making in different contexts.

Suggested skills:

Preferred qualifications include- Masters degree in Psychology or Economics- Previous experience with design and/or performance of studies in cognitive psychology and/or cognitive neuroscience- Previous experience with the fields of behavioural economics and/or psychology of decision-making- Familiarity with psychological experiment software (e.G. Presentation, E-Prime, etc.)- Strong motivation towards research in challenging environmentsGood capability to work in a team and interest for multidisciplinary research are essential, along with a good knowledge of English language, both spoken and written.

Research team and environment

This project will benefit from the recently-developed IUSS-Maugeri Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, that takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the neural bases of healthy or pathological human behavior with several research techniques applied to different populations. The lab is equipped with most of the techniques that are used in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience to investigate cognitive functioning and its neurophysiological bases, including neuroimaging, non-invasive brain stimulation, eye-tracking, and immersive virtual reality. The Lab is run by researchers based at the IUSS School (Nicola Canessa, Giulia Mattavelli) in collaboration with external researchers. The members of the laboratory, and their collaborators, are specialized in all phases of research in cognitive and clinical neuroscience, from the definition of the experimental design to the collection and analysis of data.Selected examples of the activities performed at the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in the field of Neuroeconomics:Altered striatal-opercular intrinsic connectivity reflects decreased aversion to losses in alcohol use disorder. Doi.Org/10.1016/j.Neuropsychologia.2022.108258High-definition transcranial direct current stimulation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex modulates decision-making and executive control. Doi.Org/10.1007/s00429-022-02456-3Risk perception and behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic: Predicting variables of compliance with lockdown measures. Doi:10.1371/journal.Pone.0262319 Increased decision latency in alcohol use disorder reflects altered resting-state synchrony in the anterior salience network. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-99211-1.Psychological precursors of individual differences in COVID-19 lockdown adherence: Moderated-moderation by personality and moral cognition measures. Https://doi.Org/10.1016/j.Paid.2021.111090, November 1 2021Posterior fronto-medial atrophy reflects decreased loss aversion, but not executive impairment, in alcohol use disorder. Doi: 10.1111/adb.13088.