Dr. Alessandro Tavano

Main research areas

I am interested in how time shapes perception and cognition.

For perception, I study how temporal noise and temporal expectations co-determine the encoding of stimulus sequences, in interaction with feature-based predictions.

For cognition, I exploit the temporal dimension of speech (amplitude modulation) to try and capture a signature of online access to abstract syntactic categories.

In my experiments, I rely on MEG/EEG, peripheral physiology (ECG, respiration), eyetracking and behavioral data collection. I have an extensive clinical experience, especially on the fuction of subcortical and subtentorial structures in cognition and language perception. One of my current goals is to bridge clinical and neurophysiological investigations.

Recently, I delved into the experience of complex naturalistic stimuli, such as watching a movie, asking how people’s neural states synch with each other, creating an audience that participate in a similar perceptual and aesthetic adventure.



Academic Education

2014Italian Habilitation as Associate Professor of Psychobiology
2010Master of Science in Psychology, University of Trieste
2009Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology, University of Trieste
2008–2009EEG training stay, University of Barcelona
2003Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Trieste
1999–2000Research stays as visiting Ph.D. candidate (UCL, London and McGill University, Montreal)
1998–1999Study abroad, individual research grant, Antwerp
1997–1998Long-term training course for Youth leaders, European Youth Center Strasbourg
1997Master of Arts in Linguistics and Literature, University of Trieste
1994–1995One year abroad, Erasmus program, Reading University


Since 2018Lecturer Differential Psychology Goethe University, undergraduate block courses

Lecturer Experimental Practicum in Psychology, Goethe University, undergraduate seminars

Since 2014Senior post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics

Lecturer Biological Psychology and Cognitive Processes II, University of Leipzig, graduate seminars

2009–2014Post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Cognitive and Biological Psychology, University of Leipzig

Lecturer Neurolinguistics, University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia, undergraduate course

2008–2009Lecturer Communication Psychology, University of Milan Bicocca, Italy undergraduate course

Adjunct Professor of Semiotics, Pragmatics and Philosophy of Language at the University of Trieste, undergraduate courses

2003–2009Principal Investigator and Research Associate, Research Institute “E. Medea”, San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy
2002–2004Lecturer, Neuropsychology of Language and Clinical Linguistics, University of Udine
2002Research Assistant, Research Institute “E. Medea”, San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy



Tavano, A., Rimmele, J., Michalareas, G., Poeppel, D. Neural oscillations in EEG and MEG (In preparation). 

Kazanina, N., Tavano, A. What neural oscillations can(not) do for syntactic structure building (Submitted). 

Sierra, F., Poeppel, D., Tavano, A. A bias generating temporal distortions in serial perception (Submitted).

Tavano, A., Kotz, S.A. Overt eye movements reveal covert temporal predictions (Under review)

Tavano, A., Nagels, A., Gagl, B., Muralikrishnan, R. Rapid neural encoding of the contrast between native and nonnative speech in the alpha band (Under review).

Tavano, A., Maess, B., Schroeger, E. Neural entrainment via perceptual inferences (Under review).

Gagl, B., Gregorova, K., Golch, J., Hawelka, S., Sassenhagen, J., Tavano, A., Poeppel, D., Fiebach, C.J. Reading at the speed of speech: Eye-movements sample text at the rate of speech production. (Under review).

Sierra, F., Poeppel, D., Tavano, A. How to minimize subjective time distortions. (Under review).

Tavano, A., Blohm, S., Knoop, C.A., Muralikrishnan, R, Scharinger, M., Wagner, V., Thiele, D., Ghitza,O., Ding, N.,  Menninghaus, W., Poeppel, P. (2020). Neural harmonics reflect grammaticality. Submitted. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.08.031575v1

Tavano, A., Poeppel, D. (2019). A division of labor between power and phase coherence in encoding attention to stimulus streams. NeuroImage 193; 146–156 doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.03.018.

Caletti, E., Delvecchio, G., Andrella, A., Finos, L., Perlini, C., Tavano, A. et al. (2018). Prosody abilities in a large sample of affective and non-affective first episode psychosis patients. Comprehensive psychiatry, 86, 31-38.

Scharinger, M., Steinberg, J., Tavano, A. (2017) Integrating speech in time depends on temporal expectations and attention. Cortex. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.05.001.

Lorusso, M.L., Burigo, M., Tavano, A. et al. (2017). Learning and Using Abstract Words: Evidence from Clinical Populations. BioMed research international. doi.org/10.1155/2017/8627569

Kokinous, J.,  Tavano, A., Kotz, S. A., & Schröger, E. (2017).  Perceptual Integration of Faces and Voices Depends on the Interaction of Emotional Content and Spatial Frequency.  Biological Psychology, 123, 155-165.

Tavano, A. & Scharinger, M. (2015). Prediction in speech and language processing. Cortex, 68(0), 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2015.05.001.

Kokinous, J., Kotz, S. A., Tavano, A., & Schröger, E. (2014) The role of emotion in dynamic audiovisual integration of faces and voices. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsu105.

Tavano, A., Pesarin, A., Drioli, C., Perina, A., Murino, V., & Cristani, M. (2014). Automatic conversational scene analysis. Low-level acoustic feature classification of speech activity in children with Asperger syndrome and typically developing peers. PLoS One, 9(1): e85819.

Tavano, A., Widmann, A., Bendixen, A., Trujillo-Barreto, N. J., & Schröger, E. (2014). Temporal regularity facilitates higher-order sensory predictions in fast auditory sequences. European Journal of Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1111/ejn.12404.

Tavano, A., Galbiati, S., Recla, M., Bardoni, A., & Strazzer, S. (2014). Cognitive recovery after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in children and adults: similar outcome but different underlying pathways? Brain Injury, 28(7), 900-905.

Recla, M., Bardoni, A., Galbiati, S., Pastore, V., Dominici, C., Tavano, A., Locatelli, F., & Strazzer, S. (2013). Cognitive and adaptive functioning after severe TBI in school-aged children. Brain Injury, 27(7-8), 862-871.

Gagliardi, C., Tavano, A., Turconi, A. C., & Borgatti, R. (2013). Sequence memory skills in Spastic Bilateral Cerebral Palsy are age independent as in normally developing children. Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(6), 506-512.

Tavano, A., Grimm, S., Costa-Faidella, J., Slabu, L., Schröger, E., & Escera, C. (2012). Spectrotemporal processing drives fast access to memory traces for spoken words. Neuroimage, 60(4), 2300-2308.

Schwartze, M., Tavano, A. (shared first authorship), Schröger, E., & Kotz, S. (2011). Temporal aspects of prediction in audition: Cortical and subcortical neural mechanisms. International Journal of Psychophysiology (Special Issue on Prediction), 83(2), 200-207.

Cristani, M., Pesarin, A., Drioli, C., Tavano, A., Perina, A., & Murino, V. (2011). Generative modeling and classification of dialogs by a low-level turn-taking feature. Pattern Recognition, 44(8), 1785-1800.

Gagliardi, C., Tavano, A., Turconi, A. C., Pozzoli, U., & Borgatti, R. (2011). Sequence learning in cerebral palsy. Pediatric Neurology, 44(3), 207-213.

Gagliardi, C., Martelli, S., Tavano, A., & Borgatti, R. (2011). Behavioural features of Italian infants and young adults with Williams-Beuren syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55(2), 121-131.

Tavano, A., Busan, P., Borelli, M., & Pelamatti, G. (2011). Risperidone reduces tic-like motor behaviors and linguistic dysfluencies in severe persistent developmental stuttering. Journal of Clinical Psycho-pharmacology, 31(1), 131-134.

Zanini, S., Angeli, V., & Tavano, A. (2011). Primary progressive aphasia in a bilingual speaker: a single-case study. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 25(6-7), 553-564.

Marchione, D., Tavano, A., & Devescovi, A. (2011). Prosodia e complessità linguistica nella sindrome di Williams: uno studio esplorativo sugli aspetti adattativi. Psicologia Clinical dello Sviluppo, 15, 155-174.

Tavano, A., Gagliardi, C., Martelli, S., & Borgatti, R. (2010). Neurological soft signs feature a double dissociation within the language system in Williams syndrome. Neuropsychologia, 48(11), 3298-3304.

Zanini, S., Tavano, A., & Fabbro, F. (2010). Spontaneous language production in bilingual Parkinson's disease patients: Evidence of greater phonological, morphological and syntactic impairments in native language. Brain and Language, 113(2), 84-89.

Tavano, A., & Borgatti, R. (2010). Evidence for a link among cognition, language and emotion in cerebellar malformations. Cortex, 46(7), 907-918.

Kalyva, E., Pellizzoni, S., Tavano, A., Iannello, P, & Siegal, M. (2010). Contamination sensitivity in autism, Down syndrome, and typical development. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4, 43-50.

Tavano, A., Galbiati, S., Recla, M., Formica, F., Giordano, F., Genitori, L., & Strazzer, S. (2009). Language and cognition in a bilingual child after traumatic brain injury in infancy: long-term plasticity and vulnerability. Brain Injury, 23(2), 167-171.

Farenzena, M., Tavano, A., Bazzani, L., Tosato, D., Paggetti, G., Menegaz, G., Murino, V., Cristani, M. (2009). Social Interactions by Visual Focus of Attention in a Three-Dimensional Environment. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence for Human Behaviour Analysis (PRAI*HBA), Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Cristani, M., Pesarin, A., Drioli, C., Tavano, A., Perina, A., & Murino, V., (2009). Auditory dialog analysis and understanding by generative modelling of interactional dynamics. In Second IEEE Workshop on CVPR for Human Communicative Behavior Analysis (pp 103-109), Miami, Florida (USA). DOI: 10.1109/CVPRW.2009.5204265.

Marini, A., Tavano, A., & Fabbro, F. (2008). Assessment of linguistic abilities in Italian children with specific language impairment. Neuropsychologia, 46(11), 2816-2823.

Busan, P., Fabbro, F., Grassi, M., Tavano, A., & Pelamatti, G. Effetto del trattamento farmacologico nella balbuzie evolutiva: studio comportamentale di un caso singolo. (2008). Giornale Italiano di Psicologia, 1, 193-216.

Pesarin, A., Cristani, M., Murino, V., Drioli, C., Perina, A., & Tavano, A. (2008). A statistical signature for automatic dialogue classification. In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR), Tampa, Florida (USA), 978-1-4244-2175-6/08, www.icpr2008.org.

Tavano, A., Sponda, S., Fabbro, F., Perlini, C., Rambaldelli, G., Ferro, A., Cerruti, S., Tansella, M., & Brambilla, P. (2008). Specific linguistic and pragmatic deficits in Italian patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 102(1-3), 53-62.

Tavano, A. (2007). Implicit Meaning Comprehension: An Introduction. Lingue e Linguaggio, 6(1), 3-8.

Tavano, A. (2007). Preschool Children’s Comprehension of Quantity Implicatures. Lingue e Linguaggio, 6(1), 45-64.

Bearzotti, F., Tavano, A., & Fabbro, F. Development of orofacial praxis of children from 4 to 8 years of age. (2007). Perceptual and Motor Skills, 104(3), 1355-1366.

Tavano, A., Grasso, R., Gagliardi, C., Triulzi, F., Bresolin, N., Fabbro, & F., Borgatti, R. (2007). Disorders of cognitive and affective development in cerebellar malformations. Brain, 130(10), 2646-2660.

Tavano, A., Fabbro, F., & Borgatti, R. (2007). Language and social communication in children with cerebellar dysgenesis. Folia Phoniatrica and Logopedica, 59(4), 201-209.

Tavano, A., De Fabritiis, P., & Fabbro, F. (2005). Contributo alla valutazione standardizzata dell’eloquio narrativo nei bambini. Giornale di neuropsichiatria dell’età evolutiva, 25, 48-64.

Zanini, S., Tavano, A., Vorano, L., Schiavo, F., Gigli, G. L., Aglioti, S. M., & Fabbro, F. (2004). Greater syntactic impairments in native language in bilingual Parkinsonian patients. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 75(12), 1678-1681.

Fabbro, F., Tavano, A., Corti, S., Bresolin, N., De Fabritiis, P., Borgatti, R. (2004). Long-term neuropsychological deficits after cerebellar infarctions in two young adult twins. Neuropsychologia, 42(4), 536-545.

Bearzotti, F., Tavano, A., Pecile, P., Skrap, M., Fabbro, F. (2004). Neuropsychological and language disorders in children and adolescents with brain tumor. Saggi Child Development & Disabilities, 30(1), 69-84.

Fabbro, F., Vorano, L., Fabbro, S., & Tavano, A. (2003). Language disorders following lesions to the thalamus and basal ganglia. Europa Medicophysica, 38(4): 15-29.

Burelli, A., Tavano, A. & Fabbro, F. (2003). Clinical Neurolinguistics of Bilingualism. Logos and Language, 1: 35-44.

Bigoni, A., Piccolo, B., Tavano, A., Csillaghy, A.L., & Fabbro, F. (2003). Sviluppo del linguaggio in bambini sordi trattati con il metodo orale. Saggi Child Development & Disabilities, 29(1), 25-40.

Filiputti, D., Tavano, A., Vorano, L., De Luca, G., Fabbro, F. (2002) Neurolinguistic follow-up of a quadrilingual aphasic patient. International Journal of Bilingualism, 6(4), 395-410.

Fabbro, F., Libera, L., Tavano, A. (2002). A callosal transfer deficit in children with developmental language disorder. Neuropsychologia, 40(9), 1541-1546.

Book Chapters

Tavano, A., Borgatti, R. (2010). The role of cerebellar structures in communication and language disorders. In D. Riva & J Njiokiktjien (Eds.), Brain lesion localization and developmental functions (pp. 145-156), London/Paris: John Libbey Eurotext.

Tavano, A., Borgatti, R., & Fabbro, F. (2008). Speaking without the cerebellum: Language skills in a young adult with near total absence of the cerebellum. In A. Schalley & D. Khlentzos (Eds.), Mental states, Volume I: Evolution, Function, Nature (pp. 171-190), Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Tavano A., Burelli A., & Fabbro, F. (2004). I disturbi del linguaggio acquisiti ed evolutivi nei bilingui. In R. Albarea, & P.G. Rossi (Eds.), Percorsi in Formazione (pp. 75-83). Udine: Forum Editrice Universitaria.

Borgatti, R., Tavano, A., Cristofori, G., & Fabbro, F. (2004). Language Development in Children with Cerebellar Malformations. In F. Fabbro (Ed.), Neurogenic Language Disorders in Children (pp. 127-148). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Fabbro, F., Tavano, A., Cristofori, G., & Borgatti, R. (2004). Language disorders after very early brain lesion associated with paroxysmal abnormalities during NREM sleep. In F. Fabbro (Ed.), Neurogenic Language Disorders in Children (pp. 83-98), Amsterdam: Elsevier.



  • Sensory Sharpening Effects of Attention and Expectation

    Attention to sensory stimuli is never uniformly distributed.  We tested whether time-based and feature-based aspects of sensory attention interact in facilitating the detection of new stimuli in a stream. We recorded behavioural and ...

  • Neuronal Processing of Metaphorical Movement

    This study uses EEG to examine the neuronal processing of verbs which reference physical movement in metaphorical and literal contexts. Rhetorical theory suggests that a language rich in imagery supports an especially lively cognitive and affective ...

  • Cortical tracking of complex spoken sentences

    Humans naturally tune in to the rhythm of speech (Giraud & Poeppel, 2012). Recent work has shown that low-frequency brain rhythms have been shown concurrently to track the main constituents in a linguistic hierarchy: phrases and sentences ...

  • Linguistic competence in the frequency domain

    Can rhythmic neural activity be driven to reveal purely internal linguistic competence? To answer this question, I record human electroencephalographic data as participants listen to isochronously delivered word stimuli composing chains of ...

  • Brain on Screen

    When we go to the cinema, we partake in a complex experience. How does a series of two-dimensional images and sounds blend into an immersive, sometimes lifelike narrative experience? And how do different individuals in the movie theater become ...

  • Temporal expectations

    In a series of auditory experiments using the roving standard paradigm, I manipulate both time-based (when) and feature-based (what) aspects of prediction to determine if and how they facilitate behavior. Electroencephalographic (EEG) data is ...