Published Papers

Focus on What’s Informative and Ignore What’s not: Communication Strategies in a Referential Game


September, 2019


Workshop on Emergent Communication: Towards Natural Language. Neurips 2019

In a simple referential game with two neural network-based agents, we analyze the object-symbol mapping trying to understand what kind of strategy was used to develop the emergent language. We see that, when the environment is uniformly distributed, the agents rely on a random subset of features to describe the objects. When we modify the objects making one feature non-uniformly distributed, the agents realize it is less informative and start to ignore it. Surprisingly, they make a better use of the remaining features. This interesting result suggests that more natural, less uniformly distributed environments might aid in spurring the emergence of better-behaved languages. [The paper is available on arXiv]

Semantic activation of embedded stems in the presence or absence of a morphological structure


Psychonomic Bulletin and Review


August, 2019

In this paper we investigate the effect of embedded words (e.g., HAT in THAT), and whether/how this is modulated by morphological structure. To learn more about what we found, click on the title or go straight to our post-print or the final published paper.

Augmented Modality Exclusivity Norms for Concrete and Abstract Italian Property Words


Journal of Cognition


July, 2019

We developed a new set of modality exclusivity norms for 643 Italian concrete and abstract words, which we augmented with a number of ratings-based (e.g., familiarity, age of acquisition) and corpus-based covariates (e.g., frequency, contextual diversity). [Read more by clicking on the title.]

For a probabilistic and multidisciplinary approach to the investigation of morphological processing




May, 2019

This is a position paper on the future of research on Linguistic Morphology and an Editorial that introduces the Special Issue “Structure in words: The present and future of morphological processing from a multidisciplinary perspective”, which Davide edited with Simona Amenta (University of Trento) and Marco Marelli (University of Milano Bicocca).

Open science, fair science: Garantire la trasparenza della scienza attraverso l'organizzazione della pratica quotidiana in laboratorio


Giornale Italiano di Psicologia


December, 2018

Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience are reflecting more and more on their research practices, under the spur of the so-called "replication crisis". In this paper I will argue that many tools (e.g., pre-registration, Bayesian analysis) are extremely useful and should be used widely, but none of them is an all-purpose solution to our problems. A more universal medicament is transparency, intended as a bid to make available to the community all research material (e.g., stimuli, data, analysis code). I will also describe the pipeline that we use in the lab to guarantee a sharing–friendly environment from day 1, and argue that transparency improves, rather than damaging, scientists' chances to develop a shiny career in academia. [To know more about this paper and getting a pre-print, please click on the title].

The psycholinguistic and affective structure of words conveying pain




June, 2018

Despite the flourishing research on the relationships between affect and language, the characteristics of pain-related words, a specific type of negative words, have never been systematically investigated from a psycholinguistic and emotional perspective, despite their psychological relevance. This study offers psycholinguistic, affective, and pain-related norms for words expressing physical and social pain. This may provide a useful tool for the selection of stimulus materials in future studies on negative emotions and/or pain.

MultiPic: A standardized set of 750 drawings with multilingual norms


Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71, 808-816


March, 2018

In this paper we describe a novel set of 700+ coloured images that we created and, most importantly, validated across six different languages (British English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian and German). Click on the title to read the full abstract and access the paper.

The nature of semantic priming by subliminal spatial words. Embodied or disembodied?


Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 1160-1176


September, 2016

Theories of embodied semantics (ES) suggest that a critical part of understanding what a word means consists of simulating the sensorimotor experience related to the word’s referent. Some proponents of ES have suggested that sensorimotor activations are mandatory and highly automatic during semantic processing. Evidence supporting this claim comes from masked priming studies showing that unconsciously perceived spatial words (e.g., up, down) can directly modulate action performance on the basis of their meaning.

The fruitless effort of growing a fruitless tree: Early morpho-orthographic and morpho-semantic effects in sentence reading


Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Vol 41(5), 1587-1596


September, 2015

In this eye-tracking study, we investigated how semantics inform morphological analysis at the early stages of visual word identification in sentence reading. We exploited a feature of several derived Italian words, that is, that they can be read in a “morphologically transparent” way or in a “morphologically opaque” way according to the sentence context to which they belong. This way, each target word was embedded in a sentence eliciting either its transparent or opaque interpretation.


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