Paola Sessa obtained her PhD in Cognitive Sciences in 2005 at the University of Padova where is now Associate Professor. Much of her initial research was on basic attentional and visual working memory processes. She directs the Electroencephalography Laboratory at the Department of Developmental and Social Psychology and she is a member of the Cognition and Language Laboratory (CoLab) and of the Padova Neuroscience Center (PNC) of the same University.
She is author of about 35 publications (of which 12 as first/corresponding author) and most of them have been published in leading international journals like Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Scientific Reports, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuropsychologia and Psychophysiology. She is Associate Editor of Scientific Reports and ad hoc reviewer for 18 International journals, including: Advances in Cognitive Psychology, Biological Psychology, Brain Research, Cerebral Cortex, Cognition and Emotion, Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Cortex, European Journal of Developmental Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Neuroimage, Neuropsychologia, PlosOne, Psychological Research, Psychophysiology, Scientific Reports, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Social Neuroscience.
Her research mostly focuses on empathy and simulative processes and on their neural underpinnings by using techniques with high temporal resolution, such as the EEG and ERP. She is also planning to use hyperscanning (co-registration of brain activity from two or more interacting individuals) to study these same processes in a more ecological and potentially informative setting. So far, she has been collaborating on these projects with Shihui Han (Peking University, China) and Jeroen Vaes (Università di Trento). At the present, she is also planning new collaborations with colleagues expert on theory and methodology relative to hyperscanning, such as Lauri Parkkonen (Aalto University, Finland) and Ivana Konvalinka (University of Denmark, Denmark).
A different line of research mostly focuses on using EEG/ERP to study how social cues conveyed by human faces, such as emotional expressions, group membership, gaze direction and perceived trustworthiness may shape low-level processes, in particular resolution of faces’ representations in visual working memory. So far, she has been collaborating on these projects with Pierre Jolicoeur (University of Montreal, Canada) and Roy Luria (Tel-Aviv University, Israel), who are both experts of visual working memory processes and their neural correlates.