How the brain’s structural and functional organization mediate behaviour, both in healthy subjects, and patients with neurological disorders.

The brain remains one of the major frontiers in science. The main focus of our research is to understand how different regions in the brain interact and exchange information to mediate behavior in health and neurological disorders. We are studying the functional organization of the brain, and how this organization supports cognitive function using advanced neuroimaging methods (fMRI, DTI, EEG/MEG, PET). We are also interested in understanding how focal lesions like stroke or tumors impact the large-scale organization of brain systems, and how modulation of these alterations may improve function.

Group Members
Key Publications
The main focus of our research is to understand how different regions in the brain interact and exchange information to mediate behavior in health and neurological disorders. Our laboratory focuses on three main topics: Attention Networks; Electrophysiology and Function of Intrinsic Activity; and, Neurological Mechanisms of Recovery.

Research Lines

Cognitive functions and brain networks. Our laboratory has been traditionally involved in clarifying brain mechanisms of attention. Attention reflects the ability to select a few behaviorally relevant information among many other potentially distracting and irrelevant information. We have discovered two networks in the brain: the dorsal and ventral fronto-parietal attention networks that interact during normal perception

Attention networks from Corbetta & Shulman, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2002.

( The dorsal network interacts with sensory-motor regions to enhance stimuli and responses that match ongoing goals. The ventral network detects novel and important stimuli in the environment to re-direct the focus of processing to stimuli outside of the current focus of interest ( In patients with lesions alterations of the synchronization of these two networks lead to the most common cognitive deficit after right hemisphere damage: spatial neglect ( Current work is directed at understanding the electrophysiological bases of these signals (

Brain intrinsic activity and its function. The coordination among brain regions requires among other things an interaction between ongoing patterns of intrinsic activity and activity driven by tasks. One of the most important discoveries in the last 10 years in systems neuroscience is that the brain is never at rest, and that this intrinsic activity consumes the majority of the energy budget. The brain contains 1012 neurons and each neuron is connected approximately with 104 other neurons leading to an estimate of about 1016 synapses in the brain.  Interestingly, only about 1 million axons enter the brain from the retina, and about only 1 million axons exit the brain toward the spinal cord to control movement.  Hence, the majority of brain activity is intrinsic, not sensory or motor-driven. Functional fMRI studies from ours and other labs have shown that intrinsic activity is organized in a finite number of brain networks that are synchronized at rest, but combined in different motifs during behavior (;

Learning sculpts intrinsic brain activity from Lewis et al. PNAS 2009.

We are currently investigating the neurophysiological basis of intrinsic activity (, its modification with learning (, relationship to task performance and behavioral significance (

Neurological mechanisms of injury. Finally, networks of intrinsic or task-driven activity are disrupted by focal brain injuries (stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumors).

Network view of functional connectivity abnormalities of different behavioral deficits, from Siegel et al. PNAS 2016

Our lab has been one of the first ones to show that behavioral deficits depend on the physiological disruption of brain regions/networks that are not directly damaged (  Recent work shows that stroke at the population level cause a small number of behavioral clusters (, and that these correspond physiologically to a small number of network wide abnormalities ( These studies identify patterns of activity that are potentially treatable through a variety of different approaches (rehabilitation,  stimulation, brain-computer interface) to improve function.

Marta Bisio


Andrea Zangrossi


Chiara Favaretto

PhD Student - Engineering

Loren Koçillari

PhD Student

Rodrigo Rocha

PhD Student

Alessandro Palombit

PhD Student

Elena Monai

MD - Resident neurology

Alessandro Salvalaggio

MD - Resident neurology

  • Alessandra Bertoldo, PhD
  • Diego Cecchin, MD
  • Stefano Vassanelli, PhD
  • Samir Suweiss, PhD
  • Amos Maritan, PhD
  • Angelo Ceedese, PhD
  • Giorgia Cona, PhD
  1. Corbetta M, Patel GH, Shulman GL. The reorienting system of the human brain: from environment to theory of mind. Neuron. 2008 May 8;58(3): 306-324. Citations=1996 (Google Scholar at 17/8/2017)
  2. 2. Vincent JL, Patel GH, Fox MD, Snyder AZ, Baker JT, Snyder LH, Corbetta M, Raichle ME. Intrinsic functional architecture in the anaesthetized monkey brain. Nature. 2007 May 3;447(7140): 83-6 Citations=1292
  3. Mantini D, Petrucci MG, Del Gratta C, Romani GL, Corbetta M. Electrophysiological signatures of resting state networks in the human brain. PNAS US A. 2007;104(32): 13170-5. Citations=979
  4. 4. He BJ, Snyder AZ, Vincent JL, Epstein A, Shulman GL, Corbetta M. Breakdown of functional connectivity in frontoparietal networks underlies behavioral deficits in spatial neglect. Neuron. 2007 Mar 15;53(6): 905-18. Citations=529
  5. Corbetta M, Kincade JM, Lewis CM, Snyder AZ, Sapir A. Neural basis and recovery of spatial attention deficits in spatial neglect. Nature Neuroscience. 2005 Nov;8(11): 1603-1610. Epub 2005 Oct 23. Citations=587
  6. Corbetta M, Shulman GL. Spatial neglect and attention networks. Rev.Neurosci. 2011; 34:569-99. Citations=501
  7. Lewis CM, Baldassarre A, Committeri G, Romani GL, Corbetta M. Learning sculpts the spontaneous activity of the resting human brain. PNAS USA. 2009 Oct 13;106(41):17558-63 Citations=499
  8. Bressler SL, Tang W, Sylvester CM, Shulman GL, Corbetta M. Top-down control of human visual cortex by frontal and parietal cortex in anticipatory visual spatial attention. Journal of Neuroscience. 2008 Oct 1;28(40):10056-61 Citations=396
  9. de Pasquale F, Della Penna S, Snyder AZ, Mantini D, Marzetti L, Lewis CM, Belardinelli P, Ciancetta L, Pizzella V, Romani GL, Corbetta M. Temporal dynamics of spontaneous MEG activity in brain networks. Proceedings National Academy of Science USA. 2010 Mar 30;107(13):6040-5. Epub 2010 Mar 16. PMCID: PMC2851876 Citations=396
  10. Carter AR, Astafiev SV, Lang C, Connor LT, Struna J, Strube M, Pope D, Shulman GL, Corbetta M. Resting interhemispheric fMRI connectivity predicts performance after stroke. Annals of Neurology. 2010 Mar;67(3): 365-75. Citations=358


  • MD, Chair and Professor of Neurology, University of Padova;
  • Director Padova Neuroscience Center (PNC)

Selected Awards

  • 1996 – Physician Scientist Award National Eye Institute, NIH
  • 2000 – J.S. McDonnell Foundation Award in Cognitive Sciences
  • 2005 – Marie Curie Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, European Union
  • 2006 – Norman Geschwind Award in Behavioral Neurology, Academy of Neurology
  • 2008 – Distinguished Senior Investigator Award, Washington University
  • 2010 – Top 100 Italian Scientists
  • 2013-2015 – America’s Top Doctors, Castle Connolly: top 1% of all nominated physicians
  • 2015 – Outstanding Clinician-Scientist Award, American Society of Neurorehabilitation.
  • 2012-2016 – ‘Highly Cited Researcher’ by Thompson Reuters.
  • 2016 – Two of my papers 52,53 are in the top 100 papers in the field of Neuroscience54. One is the 7th highest cited paper53.