Department of Neurological, Neuropsychological, Morphological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona Medical School, Verona,
Italy & National Institute of Neuroscience, Verona, Italy
Fellow of the ZiF research group "Competition and Priority Control in Mind and Brain: New Perspectives from Task-Driven Vision"
After obtaining a medical degree at the University of Florence in 1984, Leonardo Chelazzi begins his research activity in November 1984 at the Institute of Human Physiology of the University of Verona, where he remains until September 1986. During this period he studies the orienting of visual attention in humans and the relationship between covert attention and oculomotor control. Between October 1986 and December 1988 he is a doctoral student in the Section of Physiology of the Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Turin. During this two-year period he conducts a series of experiments on the role of the inferior olivary nucleus and of the cerebellum in the control of ocular movements in the rat, and at the end he obtains a PhD in Neuroscience. Between January 1989 and September 1990 he is again at the Institute of Human Physiology of the University of Verona where he continues his research on the orienting of spatial attention. In October 1990 he joins the Laboratory of Neuropsychology of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda (U.S.A.), where he stays until February 1994. During this period, Leonardo Chelazzi develops an original line of research to study the neuronal mechanisms of visual selective attention and visual search. The experiments entail the recording of the activity of single neurons from several visual cortical areas of awake macaques performing attention-demanding tasks. In March 1994, as assistant professor, he joins the Physiology Section of the Department of Neurological and Vision Sciences of the University of Verona, where he establishes a new laboratory to continue the experiments on awake macaques and a laboratory to perform psychophysical experiments on human observers. In 1999 he is awarded the Novartis Italian award in basic Neuroscience. Between 2000 and 2005 he is associate professor of Neurophysiology at the University of Verona, and since January 2005 he is full professor of Neurophysiology at the same University.
His research activity is fuelled by a prime interest in the study of selective attention and its underlying brain mechanisms, including the fundamental principles that govern deployment of attention by living individuals. Leo Chelazzi believes that visual selective attention emerges as a modulation of perception occurring under the crucial influence of multiple brain signals, especially those related to motivational drive, emotional processing, and many forms of short- and long-term memory. By means of a variety of approaches, including single-cell recording from the brain of behaving macaques, psychophysical experiments with healthy young adults and the scalp recording of Event-Related-Potentials (ERPs) from normal subjects, his research is aimed at unveiling the influence of those multiple critical processes on attentional deployment.