Research Project

My PhD project is focused on the role of spontaneous oscillations in electrical brain activity on perceptual decision making, with a particular focus on the alpha rhythm. This peculiar phenomenon is the most prominent brain rhythm in human EEG recordings, with a frequency of approximately 10 Hz, and it has already been linked by previous research to accuracy in tasks requiring detection of near threshold stimuli: according to these evidence, a high power in this frequency band would be related to reduced capacity in detection.

Recent evidence adds interesting features to this phenomenon. Firstly, a decrease in alpha power underlies a state of enhanced neuronal excitability in visual cortices. Secondly, the perceptual effect of this enhanced neuronal excitability is not higher accuracy (i.e. better discrimination between stimulus and noise) as thought before, but a higher probability of reporting a stimulus regardless of its actual presence.

Trying to better characterize the relationship between these spontaneous electrical brain states and our phenomenological perception is my challenge for the next years.

PhD Committee

Prof. Dr. Niko Busch
Prof. Dr. Markus Lappe
PD Dr. Joachim Gross

Conference Contributions

Balestrieri, E., Ronconi L., Melcher, D. Temporal Dynamics of Perceptual and Attentional Oscillations in a Visual Working Memory Task.
Poster session presented at: Cognitive Science Arena; 2018 Feb 23-24; Bressanone, Italy.

Balestrieri, E., Menghi, N., Lapomarda, G., Hickey, C. Do angry faces prime spatial attention?
Poster session presented at: Ten years of Mind/Brain Sciences at the University of Trento; 2017 Oct 19-21; Rovereto, Italy.


2019-now PhD student, Otto-Creutzfeld-Center for Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Muenster, Germany
2018-now PhD student, Experimental Psychology (Prof. Dr. Busch), University of Muenster, Germany
2018 Visiting Researcher at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
2015-2017 MA in Neuroscience at University of Trento, Italy
2012-2015 BA in Psychology at University of Bologna, Italy
*1991 Genoa, Italy