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Information about the Workshop

Welcome to our website!

Touch is the first sense by which we encounter the world, and by which we mark the boundary of our body. Early tactile experiences scaffold the development of the sense of self as separate from the others which, however, is not fixed since it continuously matures in interaction with the world. The relevance of an optimal self-development is clearly evident in specific clinical populations characterized by a disruption of this basic sense of self.

Despite many scholars during the last decades have paid increasing attention to the study of touch and its role in integrating a coherent sense of self, fundamental questions remain still unsolved.

How do we develop a sense of bodily self during childhood? What kind of multisensory experience infants need to form a coherent sense of body? How is such integration accomplished? Can deficits of the basic sense of self constitute a pathophysiologically distinct ecophenotype of the major psychiatric disorders? Can a fragile basic sense of self be considered an early marker for subsequent clinical conditions?

The workshop aims to share and discuss the latest findings on the role of touch in the basic sense of self, bringing together prominent scientists investigating its typical development and its damage in clinical populations.



Click on speaker's name to see the abstract!

* Please note that the workshop will take place according to Central European Summer Time (CEST)

Thrusday 30th September 2021

Virtual Session 1: Touch and the Body

09:30 am - 09:45 am Welcome/housekeeping and introduction to the Workshop and Session 1

09:45 am - 10:15 am Lecture & Discussion

Francesca Garbarini (University of Turin, Italy)

10:15 am -10:45 am Lecture & Discussion

Sarah Garfinkel (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UK)

10:45 am - 11:00 am Virtual coffee break

11:00 am - 11:30 am Lecture & Discussion

Bigna Lenggenhager (University of Zurich, Switzerland)

11:30 am - 12:00 pm Lecture & Discussion

Katerina Fotopoulou (University College London, UK)

12:00 pm - 12:45 pm Virtual aperitif & Brief talks (10min)

12:45 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch

Virtual Session 2: The damaged Self

2:00 pm - 2:15 pm Introduction to Session 2

2:15 pm - 2:45 pm Lecture & Discussion

Francesca Ferri (University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy)

2:45 pm - 3:15 pm Lecture & Discussion

Francesca Frassinetti (University of Bologna, Italy)

3:15 pm - 3:30 pm Virtual tea break

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Lecture & Discussion

Laura Crucianelli (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)

4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Lecture & Discussion

Daniela Rabellino (University of Western Ontario, Canada)

Friday 1st October 2021

Virtual Session 3: The emerging of Self during development

09:30 am - 09:45 am Welcome and Introduction to Session 3

09:45 am - 10:15 am Lecture & Discussion

Maria Laura Filippetti (University of Essex, UK)

10:15 am - 10:45 am Lecture & Discussion

Silvia Rigato (University of Essex, UK)

10:45 am - 11:00 am Virtual coffee break

11:00 am - 11:30 am Lecture & Discussion

Dorothy Cowie (Durham University, UK)

11:30 am - 12:15 pm Virtual aperitif & Brief talks (10min)

12:15 pm - 12:45 pm Closing remarks


Breaking news!!

The sense of Touch workshop will host a terrific evening conversation between two of the most eminent contemporary scholars capable of marrying neuroscience and the humanities.

Don’t forget to register to the workshop to attend the conversation scheduled for

Thursday 30th September at 6:00 p.m.

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Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt is an American novelist and essayist, author of a book of poetry, seven novels, two books of essays, and several works of non-fiction translated into over thirty languages. In 1986, Hustvedt defended her doctoral dissertation on language and identity in Dickens at the Columbia University. She is lecturer in psychiatry at Weil Cornell Medical College in New York. She won the Los Angeles Book Prize for fiction and she was awarded the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. She is the recipient of three honorary doctorates: from the University of Oslo in Norway,from Université Stendal in Grenoble, France, and

from Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

Since the late-nineties, she has been immersed in neuroscience and the philosophical quandaries

of the mind-brain debates.

In 2006, she suffered from violent shaking while delivering a memorial speech for her father, a symptom that became the subject of her book: The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves where Hustvedt explored the ambiguities of diagnosis through the lenses of medical history, neurology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis,neuroscience, and philosophy. Since the publication of The Shaking Woman, Hustvedt has lectured on neuroscience, psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature at international conferences. She has published her work in a number of scholarly and science journals, including Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Neuropsychoanalysis, Seizure: the European Journal of Epilepsy, Clinical Neurophysiology, and Suicidology Online.


Anna Ciaunica

Dr. Anna Ciaunica is researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Porto and the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, the UK. Recently, she became PI at the Centre for Philosophy of Science, University of Lisbon. Before that she was research associate at the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London; and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
She coordinates an interdisciplinary project looking at the effects of disrupted self-consciousness on self-other mirroring in depersonalization. She is also the PI of an interdisciplinary project on self-consciousness and social interactions in human and artificial agents. Her research is highly interdisciplinary focusing primarily on the relationship between atypical forms of bodily self-consciousness and social interactions in various conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Möbius Syndrome and Depersonalisation Disorder. More recently, she has deepened the development of minimal selfhood in utero as a process of co-embodiment and co-homeostasis. Despite her several academic activities, she also recognizes the need to break out of its milieu whenever possible and build connections both within
and outside the university.
She is also the main coordinator of the Network for Embodied Consciousness and the Arts (NECTArts) – a collaborative platform bringing together artists, researchers, stakeholders, policy makers and people with lived experiences, aiming at fostering creative approaches to timely issues such as self-awareness and (dis)embodiment in our hyper-digitalized world.